Deadly flu outbreak hits Kentucky and Indiana
Dozens of flu-related deaths have been reported in Kentucky and Indiana, and doctors are noticing the drastic spike in flu cases over the past two or three weeks.
MIDDLETOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting widespread flu activity in every state except Hawaii.
Dozens of flu-related deaths have been reported in Kentucky and Indiana, and doctors are noticing the drastic spike in flu cases over the past two or three weeks. Dr. Lisa Borden, a pediatrician at Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Middletown, guessed her office is seeing 10 to 20 cases of the flu every day now.
“We’re definitely seeing an uprise in the number of cases of the flu,” Borden said. “We were seeing more and more right after school started back up again.”
Most of the kids she is seeing with the flu have high fevers, as high as 103 or 104 degrees. Borden said they will also have a cough, congestion, body aches and generally feel bad.
But she admits it is sometimes difficult for parents to determine if their child’s symptoms are from the flu or a cold. The following graph from Norton lists the common distinctions between the flu and the cold:
Even if you are unsure, Borden suggests parents should bring their children into the doctor as soon as possible and take the flu test. The test will show results within ten minutes and will help determine any treatment needed.
“There is an anti-viral,” Borden said. “If it’s used within the first 48 hours of symptoms, it can help shorten the duration of symptoms.”
However, many local pharmacies are reporting a limited supply of the anti-viral Tamiflu. According to a Norton Healthcare spokesperson, the Norton pharmacy team has a supply of Tamiflu, but there is no surplus of the product. Tamiflu’s parent company, Genentech, said there is not a shortage, but some places could be running out as cases spike quickly and they wait for new shipments. The company released a statement for more information:
We have a robust national supply of Tamiflu. Additionally, since Dec. 2016, generic Tamiflu capsules have been widely available. With generic oseltamivir phosphate market entries, other companies are also producing and selling the medicine, so there should not be problems with a shortage or lack of drug. In November 2017, a generic liquid (oral suspension) of oseltamivir phosphate also became available.
As the manufacturer, we have limited information regarding Tamiflu supply in specific local areas. There may be some instances where a local pharmacy may not have Tamiflu in stock.
Because flu activity is unpredictable, we do our best each season to anticipate demand for Tamiflu by interpreting data from proprietary and public sources like the CDC and year-over-year trends. Throughout every flu season, we work closely with our network of national distributors and pharmacies to provide Tamiflu to those areas of the country that need it most. Despite robust supply nationally, from time-to-time, spot shortages may occur in local areas. If needed, pharmacies should work with authorized distributors to obtain additional supply of Tamiflu 75 mg capsules and Tamiflu oral suspension.
Borden said many healthy children and adults will fight off the flu on their own. But children and adults with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop complications, which could lead to serious health concerns or death.
According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, 36 people have died from the flu, including two children. The Indiana State Department of Health has reported 50 deaths, including one child.
Borden urges all children and adults to wash their hands often and to stay home if they are sick.
“I do ask parents: If you know your kid has the flu or is sick, please keep them home from school," Borden said. "I cannot emphasize that enough. A lot of people need to get to work, and I completely understand that and empathize with that. But unfortunately, this is how we’re seeing more and more cases.”
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