Health & Fitness

Thanksgiving travel could spread flu

Measures of H1N1 flu continue to decrease, in Kansas and nationwide, health officials said Friday, but what health officials call "influenza activity" continues to be much higher than would be expected this time of year.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that another death — the state's 19th — has been linked to the virus.

KDHE said a 75-year-old man from the Topeka metropolitan area — Jackson, Jefferson, Osage, Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties — was infected with H1N1 when he died. The man had underlying health conditions that placed him at greater risk for serious complications of influenza, KDHE said.

His death was reported to KDHE on Wednesday.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that all regions of the country are beginning to see a decrease in H1N1 flu but warned that family gatherings over Thanksgiving could give the virus opportunity to spread again.

"Influenza is unpredictable," said the CDC's Anne Schuchat, and in an influenza season, "there can be multiple ups and downs."

Kansas also continues to see a decrease in H1N1, according to a KDHE report released Friday. That's based on school absenteeism rates, visits to physicians and hospital admissions.

To prevent more spread of H1N1, the CDC is urging families to travel for the holidays only if everyone is healthy, to wash hands often, to cover their coughs and to be vaccinated when possible.

The Sedgwick County Health Department said its H1N1 vaccine clinic will be open next week to priority groups: health care workers, caregivers of infants, children and those with chronic medical conditions. The clinic, at 4095 E. Harry, will be open from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday. It will be closed the rest of next week.

For times and locations of mobile clinics, visit www.sedgwickcounty.org.

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