Flu hitting hard in Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Steven Stack, a doctor at St. Joseph East Hospital, says this flu season looks familiar.

"This looks more like a flu season like the one we saw in 2009 when we called it a pandemic," he said.

Looking at the Centers for Disease Control website, you can see just how hard the flu is hitting people this season. The flu activity level is already at "Widespread" here in Kentucky.

"I don't think Lexington is at the most severe spread of the influenza right now, but we're certainly seeing an uptick for those of us providing patient care," said Dr. Stack.

That uptick isn't only in people contracting the flu, but people actually getting hospitalized for it. The Centers for Disease Control numbers for this season are far higher than last. The only other season in the past few years with numbers like these was the H1N1 scare of 2009 and 2010.

"From year to year, the influenza can be more mild or more severe and there's just variation. This year the subtype that appears to be more prevalent is apparently hitting people harder and causing more sickness and disease," said Dr. Stack.

It's gotten so bad in Chicago that an emergency room had to turn patients away because they were overrun with flu patients.

Doctors here in Lexington say their hospitals aren't as overwhelmed as other parts of the country, but they've got a plan in place if it gets bad enough.

"We'll have to wait and see. We've got plans in place from 2009 when the H1N1 epidemic compelled us to have to come up with a plan," said Dr. Stack.

They hope they don't have to use that plan, but with several months left in the flu season, you never know.

"What we're seeing across the country is that we're only at the beginning and we're going to have a lot of work ahead of us in the next one to two to three months," said Dr. Stack.

Doctors say it's not too late to get vaccinated. They say the flu shot takes about two weeks to become effective.

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