Illinois’ public health managers say the flu season is starting to peak, but residents won’t know if this is the worst of the flu outbreak until it’s over.
The flu already has claimed the life of one child in Illinois. Statewide, flu cases are above where they were in 2016.
But Dr. Nirav Shah, head of the the Illinois Department of Public Health, said it’s too soon to tell if the flu season is peaking.
“As much as we would all love to have a crystal ball that could help us predict whether this year is going to be as bad or worse than last year, unfortunately science just doesn’t allow us to know what the future is going to be with this year’s flu season,” ” Shah said.
Last year was one of the worst flu seasons in recent years.
“This year in Illinois, although the number of cases has been steadily going up, we are about at where we have been in prior years with respect to the number of cases of flu, and the number of people who are reporting flu like symptoms,” Shah said.
Illinois does not track flu cases. The state only tracks ICU admissions and child deaths. The latest flu report from the end of December says one child in the state died from the flu this season.
The IDPH’s report also said this season’s outbreak is strong, but so far it’s mainly just a regional outbreak. Shah said flu season can last until the spring.
Meanwhile both Carle Clinic and OSF HealthCare still have visitor restrictions in place at their hospitals because of the widespread flu outbreak in our region. Both Carle and OSF are requesting that visitors be at least 18 years old. They also say only up to two visitors should visit a patient at a time, and visitors who have a respiratory illness should not visit the hospital. If they do, they should wear a mask. And anyone who has had flu like symptoms during the past week should not visit the hospitals.
The symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above, a cough, and/or sore throat.