The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said on Tuesday that influenza activity is high and widespread, and encouraged people to receive a flu vaccination.
KDHE said as of Jan. 10, 5 percent of visits to Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network clinic sites were due to flu-like illness. Influenza and pneumonia have caused or contributed to 510 deaths in Kansas since Sept. 1.
"In Kansas, young adults have typically had the lowest influenza vaccination rates, so we can't emphasize enough the importance of getting a flu shot for this segment of the population," KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer Robert Moser said. "We encourage businesses to consider recommending their employees get vaccinated if they haven't and to provide time away from work to accomplish this goal if necessary. Employers should also encourage their workers to stay home when ill."
KDHE State Epidemiologist D. Charles Hunt said a combination of 2009 influenza A/H1N1 as this year's dominant strain and low vaccination rates set the stage for a bad flu season.
"If you have not had your flu vaccination for this season, now is the time," Hunt said.
KDHE said that 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu each year. During the 2012-2013 flu season, flu and pneumonia caused or contributed to 1,444 deaths in Kansas.