The Kansas Department of Health and Environment Tuesday released some sobering news. Based on data from the Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, influenza activity has increased in nearly every region of the state.
Furthermore, overall, more than 10 percent of patient visits to ILINet clinics during the week ending Dec. 20 were due to influenza-like illness, and Kansas is reporting “widespread” influenza activity.
From Sept. 1 through Dec. 20, 333 influenza- or pneumonia-related deaths have been reported in Kansas during the current influenza season, the KDHE noted.
On average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu yearly, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu complications. During the peak of the 2013-2014 influenza season in Kansas, approximately six 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 1,135 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2013-2014 influenza season. Influenza and pneumonia was the seventh leading underlying cause of death in 2013 in Kansas.
Shopping trips and upcoming holiday visits with family and friends mean many of us will be crowded malls, airports and homes. Lots of us are wandering around coughing, sniffling and sneezing.
These are the perfect environments for the spread of this nastiness.
But, the influenza vaccination coverage rate was approximately 47 percent in Kansas during the 2013-2014 season, leaving more than half the population unprotected.
Nearly all persons six months and older are recommended to receive a flu vaccine every year. This protects not only us from getting sick, it also helps us from making others ill.
“It’s not too late to vaccinate,” said Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider. We should all take her up on that.