FRANKFORT, Ky. (1/11/13) – If it seems a little less crowded around the water cooler the past few weeks, it could be due to a rising seasonal medical condition in the area. Influenza is on the rise, with a growing proportion of people seeing their doctors for treatment of the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Numbers in the weekly FluView report, released every Friday by the CDC, show a sharp climb in cases nationwide. Kentucky is no exception to the national trend, with widespread activity across the state.
The rate of cases has increased over the past four weeks, steadily rising from 2.8% to 5.6% of visits to the doctor in the United States being for treatment of flu-like illness. While those numbers show that the flu season is in full swing, they come in below epidemic levels. During the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic, the rate of cases grew to 7.7 percent.
The flu season can begin as early as October, and last through May, peaking between January and March, which is why the CDC recommends vaccination, even mid-season. It is also important for people to remember that you can become ill even if you have been vaccinated, so you should see a doctor if you are having symptoms, especially if they are severe.
The flu can be spread from person to person, up to six feet away, and is contagious much longer than you might know. The illness is spread from the day before symptoms are developed, until up to seven days beyond that. This means you can spread the illness before you even realize you are sick.
With the 2012-2013 flu season off to a strong start, the Kentucky Department for Public Health urges people to practice good hygiene to help prevent the spread at work and school. The bacteria can live for two hours or longer on surfaces like desktops, door knobs and telephones. Washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoiding contact with others when you are sick can all help prevent the spread of influenza.
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