First Flu Death in Louisville

December 12, 2019

Louisville has had its first flu death of the season. An unvaccinated elderly individual with underlying medical conditions died Dec. 7; patient privacy laws do not allow for disclosure of other details about the individual.

Louisville has seen a sharp rise in flu cases in the past two weeks. Last week, the week ending Dec. 7, there were 202 new laboratory-confirmed cases, compared to 121 new laboratory cases the week ending Nov. 30 and 90 new cases the week ending Nov. 23. Every year there are far many more flu cases than those tested for or reported. Kentucky’s Department for Public Health is reporting regional flu activity.

“The fact that we are seeing flu death so early in the year and the fact that Australia has just weathered one of its worst flu seasons on record may mean that we are in for a severe flu season here in the United States and in the rest of the northern hemisphere,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s chief health strategist. 

“Flu can be a deadly,” Dr. Moyer added. “Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect your family, your friends and yourself from getting sick. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, we urge you to do so.  Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot.”

There have been 124 flu deaths in Louisville since 2015. The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths each year in the United States since 2010.  During that period there have been from 9 million to 45 million flu-related illnesses and between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations.

Vaccination to prevent the flu is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications, including:

•          Children younger than 5, and especially children younger than two

•          Adults age 65 and older

•          Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after baby’s birth

•          Residents of nursing homes and long-term facilities

•          People with chronic medical conditions

•          People with weakened immune systems

Flu shots are available at physicians’ offices, pharmacies and at many grocery stores. The cost of flu shots is covered by most insurance plans, by Medicare and by Medicaid.

 

See weekly reports of flu activity in Louisville HERE.