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Aug 18, 2009 8:10 PM

CDC Says Flu Activity In State Has Increased To Regional Outbreak

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) on Tuesday reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the flu activity level in the state has increased to regional, the second highest level of flu activity. The activity levels for states are tracked weekly as part of the CDC’s national flu surveillance system.

Regional activity is defined by CDC as outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illness and recent laboratory confirmed influenza in at least two but fewer than half the regions of the state with recent laboratory evidence of flu in those regions. The previous activity level was sporadic, the lowest level indicating activity. Nearly all flu cases at this time are due to novel H1N1 flu (swine flu), as seasonal flu has not yet begun to circulate.

"We continued to detect cases of novel H1N1 over the summer at a reduced rate of transmission. As anticipated, we are now seeing an increase in cases of H1N1 around the state with the return of students to school,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of DPH. “We want to remind Kentuckians to stay aware of new developments related to the flu and to focus on practicing good health habits.”

The CDC has told states to expect an increase in the number of cases of the H1N1 flu strain first identified in the spring, and which has since been declared a worldwide pandemic. Kentucky is also planning for a potential H1N1 vaccination campaign once vaccine becomes available.

Because the flu can spread easily among people in close contact and H1N1 has been more common in young people, health officials say it is especially important for those in school, day care or similar settings to practice good hygiene habits during the coming months. Common sense precautions to prevent illness include: avoiding close contact with those who are ill; staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; and frequent hand washing.

Symptoms of H1N1 influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough and body aches. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1. Individuals at higher risk for complications—such as those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant—should contact a health care provider early, in case treatment with antiviral medication is necessary.

Gov. Steve Beshear recently announced that Kentucky will hold a statewide Pandemic Influenza Summit on Sept. 3 at the Frankfort Convention Center to assist private and public stakeholders in preparing for any developments related to the novel H1N1 flu strain in the months ahead. Registration is now available online at: http://chfs.ky.gov/panflusummit09.

For more information on swine flu, visit: www.flu.gov Individuals can also visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov for information on H1N1 and Kentucky, or follow KYHealthAlerts on Twitter to be notified when new information is posted at the Web site.

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