Flu spreading in Illinois; state urges people to get vaccinated

News-DemocratJanuary 8, 2014 

Flu activity is increasing daily across the country and in Illinois, according to state health leaders.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck is urging people who have not yet received a flu vaccination this season to get one now.

"It is not too late to get a flu shot," Hasbrouck said. "Flu activity typically peaks in January, but can run into April. Getting vaccinated now can help protect you from the flu in the coming months."

According to IDPH figures, Illinois has had 122 flu-related intensive care unit hospitalizations and six flu-related intensive care unit deaths. An increase in the number of hospitalizations and deaths is expected.

IDPH recommends everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccination.

Seasonal flu is responsible for severe illness and death every year, but who is most affected each season can vary depending on the predominant circulating virus. So far this season, 2009 H1N1 viruses have been most common. The 2009 H1N1 viruses have circulated as a seasonal flu virus worldwide since it emerged in 2009, causing a pandemic.

Younger adults and children, particularly people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women, were harder hit by H1N1 compared with adults aged 65 and older. If the H1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, illness may disproportionately affect young and middle-aged adults this season.

People at high risk for serious flu complications include: People with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions; pregnant women; those younger than 5 years or older than 65 years of age; or anyone with a weakened immune system. This year, however, some who people have been severely ill with complications have been younger individuals with no underlying health problems.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, but it is not typically associated with respiratory flu.

People with flu symptoms should stay home 24 hours after the fever is gone.

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