influenza

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has quarantined parts of two counties in the southeast corner of the state in response to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The quarantine is aimed at keeping the bird disease out of Kansas.

This winter’s flu epidemic appears to have peaked, but the virus remains highly dangerous.

At a news conference Friday, Children’s Mercy Hospital pediatrician Robyn Livingston said two young patients had died of complications related to the flu. She did not provide specific patient information, citing privacy reasons.

She said, however, that flu deaths among children tend to be complicated cases. 

“Most of the children that have bad outcomes have underlying medical conditions,” Livingston said.

The phrase “flu epidemic” might raise alarm bells for some, but don’t let headlines about this season’s outbreak scare you too much.

“The ‘epidemic’ designation is basically just a way we characterizes whether flu season has started or not,” says Erin Burns, a health communications specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza division.

In fact, a flu epidemic occurs every year.

Burns says the CDC declares an epidemic when health providers have reported high numbers of flu-like symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths.

Todd Feeback / The Hale Center for Journalism

A top health official at the University of Kansas Hospital said the severity of this year’s flu outbreak is requiring inpatient admissions at a rate more than three times that which it generally sees during flu season.

Dr. Lee Norman, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference Tuesday that 36 people were in the hospital with confirmed cases of the flu or with flu-like symptoms. He said he could not remember a time when inpatient cases exceeded 10.

“These numbers are unprecedented here,” Norman said.

NIAID / National Institutes of Health

 

Kansas and Missouri rank in the bottom half of states in preparedness for potential outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola, Enterovirus and ‘superbugs,’ according to a report released Thursday.

Steven Depolo / Flickr-CC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that this season’s flu shots may not be as effective as last year’s due to a mutation of the H3N2 flu virus.

The H3N2 flu strain has "drifted" as doctors say, into a new subtype. So this season’s vaccinations will only be about 48 percent effective at preventing people from catching the H3N2 flu strain, according to the CDC.

As flu cases begin to appear in Kansas, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist urged providers to continue distributing the flu vaccine while also preparing antiviral medications for high-risk patients.

William Atkinson, a doctor who spent 25 years at the CDC and is now associate director for immunization at the Immunization Action Coalition, said there's still time to inoculate more of the population before the flu season peaks.

In the wake of swirling fears about the spread of Ebola as well as Kansas cases of pertussis and measles, we look back on a pandemic that hit home for Kansas City: the Influenza pandemic of 1918. The death rate in Kansas City outpaced that in other places, and some say the city's politics and public health infrastructure were largely to blame.

Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

That annual flu vaccine could be a thing of the past by the end of the decade, the director of the National Institutes of Health said during a Monday visit to the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Dr. Francis Collins said that NIH-funded researchers are perhaps five years away from developing a universal flu vaccine, one that is effective against virtually all strains. Individuals might need a booster down the road.

The so-called swine flu is back. New numbers come out last week, but still early in the season, the virus has sent droves to the hospital and put an unlikely section of the population at risk.

Back in 2009, the H1N1 virus caused a pandemic, infecting nearly 60 million in the United States. This season, local reports of H1N1, along with other flu types, began to surge in early December 2013, according to the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department.

The Department’s Jeff Hershberger says it’s not just the elderly and children in danger.

FairFaxCounty / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Perhaps you feel a little warm, more tired than usual, congested and maybe even achy. At this point you might ask yourself is it worth it to go to work?

Or perhaps your child looks pale and complains of an upset stomach, do you let her or him stay home from school? If you decide to tough it out perhaps you wonder if you're putting others at risk by going to work or sending your child to school.

Relief In Sight? Region Hit Hard By Flu

Feb 10, 2013
Johnson County Department of Health and Environment

The flu is widespread in Kansas and Missouri. It has been an especially rough season, but some say relief may be on the way.

Flu Vaccine

Dec 4, 2012
Bill Hand/Sun Journal

Every year, approximately 36,000 people die from influenza.  This flu season is the worst in the last decade and yet the flu vaccine is readily available. 


Flu Season Starts In Kansas City

Dec 3, 2012
user Mrd7b2 / Wikipedia

Flu season is getting underway. According to Dr. Christopher Harrison at Children’s Mercy Hospital, it’s here early.

The nation's midsection is a hot spot for influenza right now, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says there’s still time to be protected by a flu shot.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City, Missouri is getting an infusion of free flu vaccines this winter - 20,000 to be exact. And, they're being directed towards people who may be less likely to get the shot.

Walgreens recently donated the shots to help reduce vaccine disparities.

Captain Jose Belardo is Acting Regional Health Administrator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - he's overseeing the initiative.

Topkea, KS – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first two cases of influenza in Kansas this season. More from Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson.

 

Flu Vaccine Now Available...Everywhere

Sep 7, 2010

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's flu vaccine clinic opens today. This time last year, health officials were prioritizing shots for people based on certain health and age criteria. They were also grappling with a shortage of the H1N1 vaccine.