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Influenza - Flu

Division of Epidemiology
275 E. Main St.
Frankfort, KY  40621
(502) 564-3418 or (502) 564-3261 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from complications of influenza (flu) and an average of 23,000 die annually. Signs and symptoms of flu are fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children). 

Complications of the flu include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and asthma.

The flu virus is spread by people who are ill through airborne droplets emitted by coughing and sneezing. You may contract influenza by touching objects contaminated with the flu virus. 

According to the CDC, most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. While it is a serious viral disease, it is also a preventable one. The best method of prevention is to receive your influenza vaccination every year.


Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is a serious, infectious, viral respiratory disease that claims the lives of approximately 23,000 people a year. The following information is included in this section:

Who should get the Flu Vaccine?

In February 2010, vaccine experts voted to recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu. While everyone is recommended to be vaccinated against the flu, it is especially important for certain people to be vaccinated because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. This includes:

  1. Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years
  2. Pregnant women
  3. People 65 and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: 
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated) 

When should I get the Flu Vaccine?

Yearly flu vaccination should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. Influenza season most often peaks in January or February or later, so for people not able to get their influenza vaccine in the fall, vaccination in December, January and beyond is beneficial in most years.

Good Health Habits to Prevent the Spread of Flu

As the flu season approaches, The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) urges residents to practice good health and hygiene habits to prevent the spread of flu at home, work and school.  Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets of an infected person coming into contact with those uninfected. Some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desktops.  The Kentucky Department for Public Health urges all residents to take basic precautions to avoid the spread of germs and viruses.  In addition to covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, other good health habits that can help prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses are: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds or by using alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs are often spread when a person touches an object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Get an annual flu shot to help the human body develop antibodies to protect against influenza infection.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from contracting your illness.
  • Stay home from work, school, and errands if possible when you are sick. This will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Remind children to also practice healthy habits because germs spread easily at school and in child care settings, resulting in high rates of absenteeism among students and staff in our state’s schools.
Pneumococcal Information

Pneumococcal disease are infections caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia. The most common types of infections caused by these bacteria include middle ear infections, pneumonia, blood stream infections, sinus infections and meningitis.

Although anyone can contract pneumococcal disease, some groups are at higher risk than others for the disease or its complications, including persons age 65 years and older, those with chronic illness or weakened immune systems and residents of chronic or long-term care facilities.

Click here to learn more about pneumococcal disease.

Click here to learn more about pneumococcal illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Information for Media and Medical Providers

Last Updated 7/29/2013