For the fifth straight week Kentucky health officials are reporting widespread flu activity in the state.
Deputy Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said that is the highest level of activity but not unusual for January.
“What is a bit unusual is that we started to report widespread activity in the early part of December and have continued to report it then for these last 5 weeks,” Humbaugh said. “So it started a bit earlier this season.”
Humbaugh said best protection is still a flu shot.
As the flu season ramps up, Greater Cincinnati hospitals say they have two special concerns:
The 2014-2015 flu vaccination may not offer the level of protection anticipated.
There are several outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough).
A Greater Cincinnati Health Council news release says many hospitals in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana are implementing limited visitation policies to minimize the spread of respiratory diseases to patients.
The first flu-related death of the season is being reported in Northern Kentucky.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department says a Kenton County man died from complications of the flu. The department says the middle-aged man had a history of chronic health problems that may have made him more susceptible to flu.
So far this season, more than 330 cases of flu have been reported in Northern Kentucky.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital is taking preliminary steps to protect you from the bird flu.
The hospital is one of nine centers nationwide enrolling people to test an avian influenza vaccine. Even though the virus hasn't been detected in the U.S. and isn't easily spread between people, the lead Cincinnati Children's researcher says he's concerned it might start to spread rapidly and doctors need to be prepared with a vaccine to protect people.
Northern Kentucky health officials are seeing an alarming trend this flu season; more people have to go to the hospital. Statistics from last week showed one in four people who had the flu required hospitalization.