"We have been and continue to see an increase in flu activity across
the state," Dr. Hasbrouck said. "The flu strain that is
predominately circulating this year is typically more severe, with
more hospitalizations and deaths. From the beginning of October
through the end of December, we've seen almost 150 people admitted
to hospital intensive care units with influenza-like illness. There
have also been six flu-related deaths of ICU patients. This compares
to last year at this time when there were only two ICU
hospitalizations and no deaths.
"Due to the increased flu
activity, many people are going to hospital emergency departments.
So much so that some hospitals have needed to direct all but the
most critical patients to nearby hospitals because they do not have
enough room or possibly staff to see patients. In most cases we
recommend contacting a health professional before going to an
emergency department if you are experiencing flu symptoms. The
majority of people suffering from the flu simply need to stay home,
rest and let the flu run its course. Typically only people with
severe respiratory illness who have trouble breathing need to visit
a hospital emergency department.
"It is not too late to be vaccinated, to get a flu shot. The flu
season normally runs through March and sometimes later. If you do
get the flu, the vaccine can also reduce the amount of time you're
sick and the severity of symptoms. By getting vaccinated, you can
also help protect infants, the elderly and those with chronic
diseases who are at greatest risk for complications due to the flu."
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Many pharmacies offer flu vaccinations, as well as local health
departments, some physician offices and health clinics. To find
where you can receive a flu vaccination, contact your local health
department or go to the
flu vaccine finder
To reduce the spread of influenza and
other contagious diseases, it is always important to practice the
Properly wash your hands frequently.
Cover -- Cover
your cough and sneeze.
Contain -- Contain your germs by
staying home if you are sick.
For more information, visit
Department of Public Health file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]