EDGEWOOD, Ky. - A Northern Kentucky man who died as the result of flu complications is the first person to die from the virus this season, according to the Northern Kentucky Department of Health.
The NKDH says the Campbell County man had a variety of underlying medical conditions that also contributed to his death. Officials have not said when the man died or released his name and age.
More than 550 cases of flu have been reported in Northern Kentucky to date. Widespread flu activity continues to be reported throughout the state with at least half of the regions affected by the outbreak.
"We've had quite a few cases reported and part of that is because it was so cold in December. We were all inside together so much so that it will spread quite a bit more compared to last season when it was warmer," said Joyce Rice the Epidemiology manager for the Northern Kentucky Health Department.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that a total of 6.5 percent of adult deaths reported in the week of Dec. 22 in the country were attributed to flu or pneumonia. The CDC confirms 16 children died nationwide during the same time frame.
"The loss of someone to flu is a tragedy, and our thoughts go out to the individual's family," said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, district director of health. "We tend to forget just how serious influenza can be, particularly for those with other health problems. Flu can lead to serious complications and even death, as it did in this case."
The CDC recommends the following steps to prevent the flu this season:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Get a flu vaccine if you haven't done so already.
ABC's Dr. Richard Besser spoke with 9 On Your Side anchor Carol Williams about the importance of flu shots and how to take precautions. View the entire video interview here (http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/health/healthy_living/its-not-too-late-to-get-a-flu-shot-heres-why-you-should-do-it-now) .
The NKHD says vaccinations are available at most health centers, medical offices and pharmacies. Adults over 65 are encouraged to get a pneumonia vaccination as well, as it's a common complication of the flu.
Most flu cases can be treated at home with rest, fluids and fever-reducing medications.
However, if the virus develops into a serious infection that requires immediate attention some of the warning signs include:
Symptoms in Children:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held Flu-like
- symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
Symptoms in adults:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness or confusion Severe or persistent vomiting
For more information visit the NKHD's website at http://www.nkyhealth.org/flu .