Metro Louisville tracking hundreds of flu cases each week

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County has steadily reported hundreds of influenza cases over the past few weeks, but doctors said that does not mean it is too late to get a flu vaccination.

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness tracks data from doctor’s offices and hospitals and then reports how many people are testing positive for the flu each week. Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director at the health department, said the department is reporting more than 2,000 cases for the season. But that number could be higher, because many people don’t go to the doctor or do not get tested.

“We hear every year about thousands and thousands of people who die from the flu,” Caloia said. “Getting the flu shot definitely reduces your risk of being one of those people that would die from the flu.

“Sometimes, the number of cases in the community are much higher than we’re actually receiving from a report."

Caloia added that it doesn’t seem the total number of cases so far this season are more than in years past.

The CDC has labeled Kentucky as one of ten states experiencing a high activity level. And Jefferson County has seen a recent spike, especially in Influenza Type A cases. In the third week of December, 200 confirmed cases were reported. By the week of Christmas, 570 cases were reported. The first week of January was about the same, and there were 429 cases reported last week.

Doctors readily admit that getting the shot will not guarantee you are safe from the flu, but it can still protect you and others around you.

“Who you’re around and whether they’ve had a flu shot too can influence whether or not you get infected,” Caloia said. “The shot doesn’t prevent you from getting infected, but it helps you to be a lot less sick if you get exposed to it.”

The flu can be deadly. One adult and four people under the age of 18 have died this season from the flu in Kentucky. Caloia said certain groups that are at a higher risk of getting the flu or getting seriously ill from the flu need to get the vaccination.

"Particularly young infants, older adults, women who are pregnant and individuals who might have other chronic health problems or immune deficiencies," she said.

To help do your part and slow the spread of the influenza virus, wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer and stay home if you’re sick.

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