LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Department of Health is reporting that the state's flu epidemic has claimed 100 lives.

According to a news release from Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services, at least four of those deaths have involved children.

"This season's H3N2 strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, not just for those in higher risk categories but to generally healthy Kentuckians as well," the news release states.

The agency says Kentucky is in its seventh consecutive week of "widespread flu activity." This is the highest level of flu activity and indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions of the state. The flu season runs through late May.

For comparison, Kentucky recorded 76 deaths throughout the entire 2016-17 flu season.

"Tragically, the influenza virus has claimed the lives of 100 Kentuckians so far this season," said Acting Department for Public Health Commissioner Jeffrey D. Howard, in a statement.

"During this time of widespread flu activity, we want to remind people to avoid contact with others if you have influenza or an influenza-like illness. If you are sick, seek care from your healthcare provider early. Lastly, take appropriate measures to protect yourself such as washing your hands with soap and water."

According to the news release, influenza A is the most common type of flu identified in Kentucky.

"Pneumonia, bacterial bloodstream infections, and sepsis are examples of influenza-related complications that may require hospitalization and sometimes result in death of healthy people with no known risk factors for serious illness," said Dr. Jonathan Ballard, the state epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health, in a statement.

"Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu. We especially recommend that all healthy Kentuckians aged six months and older be vaccinated. The flu season typically runs until late spring so it is not too late to get vaccinated.


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