Illinois News

At least 6 dead, 122 in ICU as flu activity increases in Illinois

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Illinois state and suburban Cook County officials say they are seeing an increase in flu-like illnesses with 122 confirmed influenza ICU admissions and six influenza related deaths reported so far in the state.

Cook County Department of Public Health's Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Terry Mason is encouraging everyone six months of age and older to get a flu shot, after 44 ICU admissions were reported in suburban Cook County.

"Of the 44 ICU admissions, the ages range from toddler to late 90s," Dr. Mason said. "That demonstrates that anyone can get the flu and since the activity hasn't even peaked yet, we expect more ICU admissions and potentially deaths in the coming weeks. It's extremely important to get your flu shot now; it's the best defense against the flu virus."

Flu vaccine is readily available at your local pharmacy, family doctor and some grocery stores throughout suburban Cook County.

Influenza is a health concern for people of all ages including young children and pregnant women. However, individuals with a weakened immune system and people aged 65 years and older are at a higher risk for complications from the flu.

"The flu spreads through droplets so when you sneeze, they are forced in the air. These particles ride in the droplets, then you inhale the droplets and you get sick," said Dr. Mason.

Influenza is a virus that affects the respiratory system and is spread primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of influenza can range from mild to life-threatening and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

To limit the spread of flu, residents should practice common sense and 3 C's: " Clean - properly wash your hands frequently " Cover - cover your cough and sneeze " Contain - contain your germs by staying home if you are sick

"You shouldn't go to work if you have a fever, wait 'til one day after the fever has been reduced before you go back to work," said Dr. Mason.

At the Northwestern Immediate Care Center in River North, doctors have seen an uptick in patients experiencing flu symptoms including body aches, fatigue and chills.

Besides constant sanitation, doctors says it's not too late to get a flu shot.

"It's best to get vaccinated to prevent the flu. It's widespread and you might not know you have it and you can spread it to other people," said Dr. Neetha Ghejji, Northwestern Immediate Care Center.

Dr. Ghejji says it takes at least two weeks before the vaccine will protect you against the flu virus.

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