LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — Officials with the Department for Public Health are reporting the first four flu-related deaths of the season in Kentucky. The flu activity has also been raised to "widespread," the highest flu activity, indicating increased flu cases or outbreaks in at least half of the commonwealth's regions.
"So that's four confirmed deaths, and that's four too many, " said Kevin Hall of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.
The ways to prevent the flu are tried and tested: staying home when sick, practicing good hand washing and getting the flu vaccine.
"If you are 60 or older or if you have a baby in your household, you want to make sure you're getting that flu shot, " Hall said.
Health officials confirm at least one of the deaths was in the Louisville area. That person has been described as an unvaccinated elderly person with an underlying medical condition.
"It's not necessarily the flu that kills them. The flu makes what's already affecting them that much worse, " Hall explained.
In all there have been 1,622 lab-confirmed flu cases across the state since August, according to the Department of Public Health. In Lexington, there have been 29 lab-confirmed cases of the flu this season and no confirmed deaths, but Hall said that does not mean it's not out there.
"It's hitting hard in all the surrounding areas though, and once people start coming in to Lexington for shopping, ball games , movies ... whatever reason they're here, they're bringing that flu virus with them, " Hall said.
With Christmas about two weeks away, Hall said now is as good a time as ever to get vaccinated.
"The flu is out there, it's picking up, and it's not slowing down any time soon."