In Thursday's edition of the Daily Globe it was reported that Kansas was experiencing widespread cases of the flu. According to the article, a press release issued from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), they are currently monitoring the percentage of patients seeking health care in selected outpatient clinics who exhibit influenza-like illness (ILI).
"Last week (ending January 5), the rate of ILI among patients seeking care at ILINet sites was approximately 6.4 percent. During the previous (2011-2012) influenza season, this rate peaked at 3.4 percent the week ending March 10, the latest peak of an influenza season in Kansas since surveillance began in 1995," the press release stated.
Locally, it seems like there's been an increase in the number of flu cases as well.
According to Stephan Childers, a registered nurse at the Ford County Health Department, there have been 12 reported cases of the flu so far this season in the local community. All 12 cases have been type A or B and occurred in children and adults who have not been vaccinated.
"The flu is not what we call a 'reportable disease'," Childres said. "Meaning, unless an infant or child dies from the virus, it doesn't have to be reported to us. So there probably have been more than 10 cases in Ford County, but these are the ones that have been reported."
Many people treat themselves at home when they come down with the flu, making it even more difficult to get an accurate number of cases.
The good news however, is that all of the cases that Childres is aware of this flu season have been sub types of the three strains in the trivalent vaccine: influenza Type A, Type B and H1N1. So, the vaccine is good this year, and capable of preventing these types of flu so long as individuals and their children receive timely immunizations.
Childers went on to say that, according to an informal report he had received from Western Plains Medical Complex, their ER has been seeing a much higher number of children and adults with confirmed influenza A and B, but primarily A. He did not have an official tally for the number of flu cases yet as of press time, but he did say that local schools and the hospital seem to be reporting a high number of cases for this time of the season. Usually, the peak of the season doesn't come until February or March. Childers emphasized that to avoid getting sick, prevention is still the best option.
Tips to avoid getting the flu
• It's not too late to get vaccinated. Shots are available at all health care facilities in Dodge City.
• Wash your hands regularly throughout the day with warm soapy water.
• Sanitize things commonly used in your home or office, such as phones, keyboards and door handles, especially things that are used by multiple people throughout the day.
Page 2 of 2 - • If you do get sick, stay home to avoid getting others around you sick.