The Northern Kentucky Health Department just received report of the area's first seasonal flu death this flu season. A middle-aged Kenton County man, with a history of chronic health problems, died from complications of the flu.
“The loss of someone to the flu is a tragedy, and our thoughts go out to the individual’s family,” Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, district director of health, writes in a press release. “We tend to forget just how serious influenza can be, particularly for those with other health problems. Flu can lead to serious complications and even death, as it did in this case.”
While the CDC doesn't track adult flu deaths, they estimate 6.5 percent of all adult deaths nationwide were attributable to the flu or complications from the flu for the week ending Dec. 28. And Kentucky is reporting widespread flu activity, particularly a strain (H1N1) that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults, according to Saddler.
The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid getting the flu:
1. Get a flu vaccine. If you're over 65, also get a pneumonia vaccination.
2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throw it away).
3. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser after you cough or sneeze.
4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
5. Avoid sick people.
While the flu is commonly treated at home, these symptoms require immediate medical attention.
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness or confusion
- Severe or persistent vomiting