First cases of influenza in Kansas for ’15-’16 flu season identified

TOPEKA (KSNT) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first influenza cases of the 2015-2016 season.

The four cases were reported by a hospital in South Central Kansas.

So far, influenza activity has not been widespread in the state, but there are localized pockets with high activity in other parts of the country.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, dry cough, extreme tiredness and muscle aches. Complications include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration. Influenza may also worsen chronic conditions.

“The arrival of our first influenza cases of the season serve as an important reminder that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine,” said KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer Susan Mosier, M.D., MBA, FACS. “Influenza activity typically peaks in Kansas during winter months. We urge you to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family members from the flu.”

According to KDHE, this season’s flu shot “appears to be a very good match to the circulating influenza viruses.”

Additional ways to avoid spreading the flu include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands, and staying home when sick.

A flu shot is recommended for nearly everyone 6 months old and older. Infants younger than 6 months are considered too young to be vaccinated, but are more vulnerable to complications from the flu.

Being vaccinated against influenza is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications and anyone who is caring for children younger than 5 years old. It is also important for people who care for those with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications.

On average, depending on the severity of the flu season, 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets influenza each year. During the peak of Kansas’ 2014-2015 flu season, approximately 3 percent of all health care visits in ILINet clinics were due to influenza-like illness. During that flu season, influenza or pneumonia contributed to or was the direct cause of 1,153 deaths among Kansas residents, making it the eighth leading cause of death in 2014 in Kansas.

For information on receiving the influenza vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. Visit http://www.kdheks.gov/flu for influenza facts.

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