Flu outbreak one of the worst in several years; could grow worse - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Flu outbreak one of the worst in several years; could grow worse

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- It is one of the worst flu seasons in several years, but can you still protect yourself from catching the virus?

With word of a bad flu season ahead, some areas in the U.S. are experiencing a shortage of the flu vaccine, but it is not too late to get a shot.

It was a short stop in for Jim Robinson at the American Urgent Care for a flu shot. "Saw the news this morning. they were talking about all of the hospitals being overcrowded and flu epidemic going out of this world, I saw the sign outside and whipped in here and got a flu shot."

He says he usually does not get one. "They said it's worse, the outbreak, so you know, I thought I better get one, I'm getting older," said Robinson.

Health officials say it is not a waste to get one so late in the flu season.

"Absolutely not, we still think there's plenty of time for people to get a vaccine, we want you to get it sooner than later. remember the influenza season can last as late as April, it takes about two weeks for the effects of the vaccine to kick in for most people," said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of Louisville Metro Health and Wellness. She says this flu season started earlier and spread faster than last year.  "Currently in Jefferson County, we've seen a total of 53 cases of laboratory confirmed cases of influenza confirmed compared to two this time last year and over 1,000 positive rapid tests," said Nesbitt.

Dr. Tariq Mehmood says the body aches, fever, coughing, and headaches come on fast. "In the patients who are elderly or very young or are immune compromised they can actually develop complications from it and they can actually die," said Mehmood.

Boston has declared a health emergency, the state has seen at least 18 deaths because of the virus. In Indiana, ten people have died.

This year's more aggressive strain is covered in the vaccine. "What we do know is H3N2 which is the influenza A type strain that we're seeing most of this year is present in the vaccine," said Nesbitt.

Wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home if you are sick. Dr. Nesbitt also says you can always ask your doctor about tamiflu, which can shorten the duration of your illness.

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