Kansas hospitals warned to be ready for flu increase

SHAWNEE, Kan. - A public health bulletin sent to Johnson County health care providers this week warns them to be prepared for an increase in influenza patients, especially those with more severe illnesses, as the flu season picks up in earnest next week.

Kansas is one of 10 states already experiencing "widespread" flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control – and with many schools returning to session and workers returning to their jobs next week, local health officials are preparing for the virus to spread more quickly and infect more people across the metro.

"They're expecting the next few weeks, especially, to become really severe, with many, many infected patients," Dr. Steve Lauer of the University of Kansas Hospital said on Thursday. "I suspect most of January we're going to see a lot of cases of people coming into emergency rooms, urgent cares with the classic symptoms."

The CDC's documents on the flu nationally indicate reports of "severe respiratory illness" among young and middle-aged adults, not just children and the infirm.

The reports also said the most widespread flu is the so-called "Type A," which this year's flu vaccine should largely protect against. Health officials said on Thursday it was not too late to get the vaccine, which is still widely available, and typically takes a few days to provide maximum protection against the virus.

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