FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KDHE Contact: Miranda Steele, 785-296-5795
TOPEKA, Kan. -The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reporting the first confirmed influenza cases of the 2013-2014 season. Both cases were among adults in the Wichita area. One case was identified through local surveillance activities by the Sedgwick County Health Department and the other case was identified through ILINet, a system of clinics that KDHE uses to monitor outpatients who exhibit influenza-like illness.
Health officials are reminding Kansans that it's not too late to get vaccinated against influenza. 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.
"The arrival of our first confirmed influenza cases of the season serves as an important reminder for everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community," said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. "Influenza normally increases during the holidays before peaking around February."
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 2012-2013 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 1,444 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2012-2013 influenza season. Influenza and pneumonia was the eighth leading cause of death in 2012 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. Visit www.kdheks.gov/flu for influenza facts.