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First confirmed flu cases of season identified in Kansas
Vaccine still available locally
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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has now confirmed the first influenza cases of the 2015-2016 season, the KDHE announced Thursday. Although the season is well underway, health officials say its not too late to get vaccinated.

“The Health Department still has vaccine available,” said Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider. None of the reported cases were from Barton County our the surrounding area.

The four cases were from a South Central Kansas hospital. While influenza activity has not been widespread in Kansas, there are localized pockets of high activity in other parts of the country, accompanied by reports of severe influenza illness. 

“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 Susan Mosier, M.D., MBA, FACS, KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “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.” 

Nationally, this season’s influenza vaccine appears to be a very good match to the circulating influenza viruses. Influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older. Infants less than six months of age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to the complications from influenza.

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

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

Depending on the severity of the influenza season, five percent to 20 percent of the population may get influenza each year. During the peak of the 2014-2015 influenza season in Kansas, approximately 3 percent of all health care visits in ILINet clinics were due to influenza-like illness. Influenza or pneumonia contributed to or was the direct cause of 1,153 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2014-2015 influenza season. Influenza and pneumonia was the eighth leading cause of death in 2014 in Kansas.             

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

For information on receiving the influenza vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. for influenza facts.