Flu season has officially arrived. Surveillance by the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute shows a significant increase in flu virus concentration in Louisville’s wastewater, and the most recent weekly flu activity reports from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) also show an increase in cases reported by health care providers. Flu season typically occurs between October and May, with peak activity in December and January.
Researchers at UofL’s Envirome Institute, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and Wellness, have utilized a wastewater-monitoring approach to track the presence and levels of infectious diseases, including the flu and COVID-19, to offer an early-warning system for Louisville.
“Wastewater monitoring involves tracking the presence of pathogens, such as viruses, in sewage or wastewater,” said Ted Smith, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology and environmental medicine at UofL. “This innovative technique allows researchers to detect the early signs of disease outbreaks in a community, providing valuable insights into the potential spread of illnesses and enabling timely public health responses. Our latest wastewater report shows flu season has officially arrived. If you have not taken action already, now is the time to take steps to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.”
“To reduce the chance of severe symptoms and hospitalization, the most effective and proactive step you can take is to get vaccinated against the flu,” said Kris Bryant, associate medical director at LMPHW, professor of pediatrics at UofL and pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Norton Children’s. “To be protected during this time of spread, it is crucial to receive your flu shot as soon as possible. It’s recommended that everyone 6 months and older get their flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is both safe and highly effective.”
It typically takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals who were vaccinated against the flu last year were 40% to 70% less likely to be hospitalized due to flu-related illness or complications. Vaccination not only protects you but also contributes to the overall community’s well-being by reducing the spread of the virus.
For additional information on vaccination clinics and other preventive measures, visit the Louisville Metro’s Department of Public Health and Wellness flu web page.
For additional information on the Envirome Institute’s wastewater monitoring for COVID-19 in Louisville, visit the Wastewater Dashboard.
UofL’s Envirome Institute and the Louisville Metro’s Department of Public Health and Wellness are committed to leveraging innovative technologies and research methods to safeguard the health of our community. By monitoring wastewater, we can stay one step ahead of disease outbreaks and better protect the well-being of all residents.