For Immediate Release
January 25, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


Vaccine Still Available as Flu Activity Increases

KDHE Laboratories Confirm First Positive Cases of Seasonal Flu

As Kansas enters the peak of the flu season, health officials are reminding Kansans they still have time to get vaccinated and healthcare providers indicate that vaccine is still available. The Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories have now confirmed the first laboratory positive influenza cases of this season in northwest and northeast Kansas.

Seasonal flu activity is also increasing around the state. Additional reports of influenza-like illness in those regions, along with recent positive rapid tests throughout Kansas, has lead the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to report flu activity to be at a “regional level.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines regional flu activity within a state as “increasing influenza-like illness in two or more regions, with recent confirmed activity.”

Get Vaccinated Against the Flu

“There is still time to get a flu shot and have it be of value in protecting you from the flu,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Gail Hansen. “It only takes about two weeks for the shot to become effective.”

Although influenza is typically confirmed earlier in the season, January through March is the peak time for flu in Kansas. Hansen noted the flu vaccine is about 80 percent effective in preventing illness, and that the flu shot cannot cause a person to develop the flu.

“You can possibly still get influenza after having the vaccine, but the symptoms are usually less severe and complications less frequent,” she said.

KDHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) especially recommend that the following groups receive a flu shot each year:

Certain groups of people should not be vaccinated:

Flu Symptoms

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness, and its symptoms include sudden onset of fever, sore throat, muscle aches and non-productive cough. More serious illness can result if pneumonia occurs. Influenza is spread by direct contact with an infected person or by airborne droplets that produce infection when they are inhaled or ingested off the hands. Persons are most contagious during the 24 hours before they develop symptoms and are usually somewhat infectious for the next six or seven days. The incubation period, the time from when the virus enters the body until symptoms appear, is usually one to three days.

Treatment

Treatment for uncomplicated influenza includes bed rest, adequate fluid intake, relief of cough and sore throat symptoms and aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce fever. Due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, aspirin and other medicines containing salicylate should not be given to children.

Medications are available to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of influenza, but they must be administered within 48 hours of illness onset.

Steps the public can take to avoid catching or spreading the flu:

For more information about seasonal flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/.