Doctors concerned about worse flu season in Louisville this year

Doctors warn this year's flu season could be far worse than in years past. Cases are already popping up locally.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Doctors at Norton Children’s hospital say they have seen an increase in flu cases already.

They’ve admitted four patients with flu, compared to none this time last year.

Dr. Kristina Bryant from Norton Children’s is urging families to make sure children six months to 17 years of age get the flu vaccine. Dr. Bryant said children are more likely to transmit the virus, especially now that COVID mitigation measures have eased.

”You are contagious even before you develop symptoms,” Dr. Bryant said. “And so, this makes it very easy for flu to spread in settings like schools,”

When everyone was wearing masks, Dr. Bryant said schools were less of a breeding ground for the virus to spread.

”I worry that some parents may have forgotten how bad flu can be in kids,” Dr. Bryant said.

Health expects say concern also comes after seeing other countries emerge from some of their worst flu seasons.

Australia is experiencing the worst flu season in 5 years, Dr. Bryant said. The country is experiencing a twindemic, meaning a surge in COVID and flu cases.

Another factor, Dr. Bryant said is that Kentucky is behind compared to the rest of the country when it comes to the number people who have already gotten their flu shot.

Bryant says last year only 50% of kids age 17 years of age got the flu vaccine compared to 58% nationally.

”What parents need to know is this is not just a cold. This is more serious than a cold. In a typical year thousands of kids get hospitalized with flu,” Dr. Bryant said.

Children under five and those with underlying health conditions are at highest risk.

Common symptoms of flu include: fever, chills, body aches, congestion, cough, sore throat, and headache.

”Kids die from flu. Flu vaccine is really the best way to protect children,” Dr. Bryant said. ”Going into this flu season, we have kids who have never been exposed to flu and in fact have never had flu vaccine before. So they don’t have any pre-existing immunity to protect them,” Dr. Bryant said.

Dr. Bryant said best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get vaccinated for both, which you can do at the same time.

WAVE reached out to Baptist Health Floyd to see if they are seeing the same thing in Indiana. Unlike Norton Children’s hospital the said so far they have not seen an increase in flu cases from last year.