Flu cases on the rise in Boyle

Published 11:43 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

The flu has arrived in central Kentucky. In the past week, there’s been a surge in confirmed flu cases in Boyle County.

“It seems this time of year, things really start picking up,” said Brent Blevins, director of the Boyle County Health Department. “… Just in the last couple days, we have had an uptick in the number of flu cases that were reported to us.”

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Blevins said there have been 15-20 cases of the flu in Boyle County that were confirmed by lab tests at the state level.

Those are the only cases the health department can know of for sure, but there could easily be many more — Blevins said doctors’ offices frequently use “rapid tests” to screen for the flu when sick people come in. Those results don’t get reported.

The most recent state flu report provided to the health department was concerning activity from Dec. 3 to 9, Blevins said. It lists only one confirmed flu case in the entire Bluegrass region. That number will certainly jump when the next report comes out, he said.

According to the report, available to the public from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, there were 67 cases of the flu confirmed across the state and one death from the illness from Dec. 3 to 9.

Blevins cautioned against assuming you have the flu if you get sick.

“There’s a lot of things that go around, a lot of sickness that goes around that people call the flu that’s not actually the flu,” he said. “We have to be careful of that because sometimes there are just viruses that go around.”

Blevins said people who are sick should consult their doctors, who can determine what illness they have. Different viruses might be treated more effectively in different ways than the flu.

He said in order to avoid getting the flu, there are all the common-sense measures: wash your hands, keep your hands out of your mouth, stay home if you’re sick to prevent spreading illness — and “I definitely recommend getting the flu shot.”

“Flu shots are one of the best defenses against the flu,” Blevins said, noting that people with complicating medical factors should consult their doctors before getting the shot.

Blevins said there have been some early reports that this year’s flu shot may not be as effective, but it’s still too early to know for sure. And even if you get a flu shot and still get the flu, the illness will be far less severe than if you didn’t get the shot.

The Boyle County Health Department offers flu shots during its open hours, as do most pharmacies and doctors’ offices, Blevins said.

“One of the good things getting ready to happen is school is getting ready to get out,” he said. “That’s usually a good break in the community to help combat (the flu), because once it’s in the school systems, it can spread quickly because you have a large number of people in a small area.”


According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services:

In February 2010, vaccine experts voted to recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu. While vaccination against the flu is recommended for everyone, it is especially important for certain people to be vaccinated because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. This includes:

• Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years;

• Pregnant women;

• People 65 and older;

• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;

• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; and

• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu.


The Cabinet for Health and Family Services lists these tips for preventing the spread of the flu:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds or  use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often are spread when a person touches an object contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

• Get an annual flu shot to help you develop antibodies to protect against influenza infection.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from contracting your illness.

• Stay home from work, school and errands if possible when you are sick. This will help prevent others from catching your illness.

• Remind children to practice healthy habits because germs spread easily at school and in child care settings, resulting in high rates of absenteeism among students and staff in our state’s schools.