Last week, a company that makes smart thermometers called Kansas the sickest state in the nation.
It’s probably right.
In January, more than 12 percent of all doctor’s visits in Kansas – and nearly 15 percent in the Wichita area – were made because of the flu. Nearly 50 deaths in the state have been contributed the flu so far this season, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports. Another 163 people have died from pneumonia, with pneumonia and influenza linked as a contributing factor in another 552 deaths.
Verita Coffee Bar, 9414 W. Central, even closed last weekend because of flu breakouts among employees.
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Wichita schools have reported seeing a spike in illnesses in their students — though it’s almost impossible to tell how many students specifically caught the flu this year, spokeswoman Susan Arensman said.
Officials with First Student said last week that the flu outbreaks have affected bus drivers. In mid-January, about 10 percent of Wichita drivers – four times the usual number – called in sick each day, Jen Biddinger said.
Kansas is having a pretty hard time staying healthy. So is it too late to keep you or your child from becoming sick?
The Eagle asked Amie Worthington, a medical investigator with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, that question and more.
Should parents get their children vaccinated now if they haven’t already?
It is not too late to get vaccinated for influenza. This is the 10th week that influenza-like illness has been at or above the national baseline. The past five seasons have averaged about 16 weeks, with the longest lasting 20 weeks.
Can you tell us more about this year’s strain?
So far, influenza A/H3 viruses have been most common this season, however, influenza A/H1 and influenza B are also circulating. H3N2-predominant seasons have been associated with more severe illness, especially among people older than 65 years and children.
What are symptoms people should look out for in adults and children?
People who have the flu often experience symptoms that may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigues. These symptoms usually start suddenly, not gradually.
What should they do if/when they see symptoms?
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs are a treatment option. Check with your doctor promptly is you are at high risk for serious flu complications (adults 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, etc.) and develop flu symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your illness. If you do not decide to seek medical care, stay home to prevent the spread of influenza.
How long are people contagious when they’re infected? And how long should they stay out of work/school when they notice symptoms?
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. People with flu should stay home until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.