Henderson County: Hot spot for the flu bug

Kentucky is one of three states reporting widespread flu activity.

Henderson County is leading the rest of western Kentucky in flu cases with 27. Next in line is Webster County with six. Most of those cases were diagnosed around Christmas and are just now being recorded. Besides the delay, there are other limitations to the state's tracking system.

Not every doctor is required to report every single case, and the flu isn't always easy to confirm.

Dr. James Buckmaster says there's been a slight increase in cases recently but not as many as there were around Christmas. "We were seeing probably 30 or 40 a day. I mean, it was busy... Bad flu season this year."

The Henderson County Health Department says there were a lot more cases last month, but that doesn't mean flu season has already peaked.

Jeanie Hardy, RN, Henderson County Health Department, says, "Some years, you may have a peak in December. In other years, it may be March."

It's difficult for the health department to know exactly how many cases there are at any given time because doctors don't report every one they see.

Dr. Buckmaster explains, "We just don't have time to be on the phone all day."

Plus, the rapid tests are only about 70 percent accurate.

Some tests come back negative, but Dr. Buckmaster says experience tells him it is the flu. So, he'll go on ahead and treat the patient with antiviral medication. "Clinically, we feel like they have it, and we're treating them empirically for it."

Dr. Buckmaster recommends getting a flu shot if you haven't done so already. The health department still has plenty of the vaccine available.

Hardy says, "And we still have some VFC, vaccine for children, but we're down to 170 doses. So there's still time to get the flu vaccine."

Reporter asks, "Why would I want one this late?"

Hardy responds, "Well, you could still get the flu. I'd say if you haven't gotten one, you can get one from now until the middle of March."

And the flu shot works. State health officials say every flu case they've cultured so far has been one of the strains that was included in that year's flu.

Flu shots are $22 at the Henderson County Health Department.