Flu activity remains in decreasing trend

Published 12:30 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

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Normally, winter is the peak time for influenza in Kentucky, but after seeing an early spike in the 2022-2023 season, there has been a consistent decrease in cases since the week following Thanksgiving, according to the latest report.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is reporting 309 new confirmed flu cases in the state between Jan. 15-21, the latest period available. That is less than half of the 633 cases in the previous report and raises the seasonal total to 41,413.

DPH points out there was a delay by one large healthcare facility in reporting new cases during prior weeks, which is why the total number of 2022-2023 cases jumped 1,988 from the previous week.

This compares very favorably to the period November 27 through December 3, when there were 7,192 new cases, and the Influenza Activity Level was considered “Widespread,” the highest level on the five-step scale.

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This Jan. 15-21 report places Kentucky in the “Regional” Influenza Activity Level, which is one step down from widespread.

According to public health officials, the “Regional” flu activity level is indicative of outbreaks of influenza or increases in Influenza-like illness and recent laboratory confirmed influenza in at least two, but less than half the regions of the state, with recent laboratory evidence of influenza in those regions.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is reporting that the age category with the most confirmed flu cases during the 2022-2023 flu season involves children ages 1-10, with more than 12,000 in that age group alone.

Two more people died from the flu between Jon. 15-21.  Of the 132 total flu deaths so far this season, 124 were among those who are 18 years of age or older.  Eight deaths have been confirmed in those under 18, which is the highest seasonal total ever.  The previous record was six, which was set during the 2019-2020 flu season.

Although most flu cases result in mild illness, serious symptoms such as difficulty or fast breathing, seizures, bluish lips or face, high fever (above 104 degrees), fever or cough that improves but then comes back or gets worse, dehydration (e.g., no urine for eight hours, dry mouth, no tears), or worsening of other medical conditions, require immediate medical attention.  Antiviral treatment of influenza is also recommended to reduce the severity of the illness.