The latest report released by the CDC is showing that flu season is getting worse fast.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of states reporting high levels of doctor visits due to flu-like symptoms more than doubled in the last week, from 10 to 21.
Similar reports are coming from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Kane County Health Department.
Locally, the Kane County Health Department’s Flu Surveillance Report shows an uptick in influenza-related hospital visits to 3.4 percent of total. However, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that other west-suburban hospitals have been hit hard and are restricting visitors due to the high incidences of flu.
Experts said this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective as some previous years. According to a CBS report, the U.S. often looks at Australia’s most recent flu season to determine the likely effectiveness in America. Experts say Australia’s — which uses the same formula as the U.S. — was only 10 percent effective there.
On average, pasthave been about 42 percent effective, though that number can range anywhere from 10 to 60 percent in a given year, CBS said.
Here’s a look at the flu situation locally, statewide and nationally, plus direction on what to do if you get sick.
Kane County Health Department
SOURCE: Kane County Health Department Facebook page
Flu activity is on the rise!
Remember, it’s not too late to get your flu shot, either here at KCHD, a local pharmacy or your health care provider. Or visiting your local family doctors office would be wise if you want to avoid the tribulations that come with having the flu. There is nothing worse than being unable to go to work or school due to illness that could have been avoided with ease.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6-months-old and older should get the shot. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
Kane County Flu Surveillance Report
Influenza surveillance for Kane County Health Department includes the collection of data from hospital emergency rooms, laboratories, and public schools. Participants have reported the following aggregate measures for Week 50, which ended Dec. 16:
- Among five reporting hospital emergency rooms, 3.4 percent of visits were for influenza-like illness (ILI).
- During Week 50, 6 labs reported that 114 of 635 (18.0 percent) of specimens tested for influenza were positive. Of these 114 specimens:
- 98 (86.0%) were positive for Influenza A
- 16 (14.0%) were positive for Influenza B
- The ILI absenteeism rate for public schools in Kane County was 0.29 percent. No public school was closed for increased ILI activity.
- As of the week ending Dec. 16, there were five cases of influenza-related ICU admission reported to the Health Department. No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
- To date, three outbreaks of influenza have been reported in Long-Term Care/Assisted Living facilities in Kane County.
CDC Reports Increase Flu Activity
Here’s information from the CDC’s Dec. 23 flu summary:
According to this week’s CDC FluView report, seasonal influenza activity increased sharply in the United States.
The number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 23 to 36, the proportion of samples testing positive for influenza at clinical laboratories went from 14.0 percent to 22.4 percent, and the percentage of people seeking outpatient care for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased from 3.5 percent to 5.0 percent over last week’s report.
ILI has been at or above the national baseline for five weeks so far this season. During recent seasons, ILI has remained at or above baseline for 13 weeks on average. H3N2 viruses continue to predominate.
While flu vaccination is still recommended for people who have not yet gotten vaccinated, antiviral drugs are an important second line of defense that can be used to treat flu illness. CDC recommends the use of antiviral drugs as early as possible to treat flu illness in people who are very sick with flu and those at high risk of serious flu complications.
Below is a summary of the key flu indicators for the week ending Dec. 23, 2017:
- Influenza-like Illness Surveillance: For the week ending Dec. 23, the proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 5.0 percent, which is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent. All 10 regions reported a proportion of outpatient visits for ILI at or above their region-specific baseline levels.
- Influenza-like Illness State Activity Indicator Map: 21 states experienced high ILI activity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia).
- Geographic Spread of Influenza Viruses: Widespread influenza activity was reported by 36 states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
- Additional data are available at: https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/FluView8.html.
How To NOT Get The Flu
IF YOU GET SICK …
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Symptoms of flu include:
- fever (usually high)
- extreme tiredness
- dry cough
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults.
While getting a flu vaccine each year is the best way to protect against flu, influenza antiviral drugs can fight against influenza, offering a second line of defense against the flu.
Antiviral drugs are an important second line of defense against the flu.
- If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs are an important treatment option. (They are not a substitute for vaccination.)
- Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body.
- Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. This could be especially important for people at high risk.
- For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within two days of symptoms).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued interim guidance on which antiviral drugs to use during the 2017-2018 flu season. The three antiviral drugs are:
- Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu ®)
- Zanamivir (brand name Relenza ®)
- Intravenous Peramivir (brand name Rabivab®)
Antiviral drugs differ in terms of who can take them, how they are given, their dose (which can vary depending on a person’s age or medical conditions), and side effects.
For more information, see CDC Influenza Antiviral Medications: Summary for Clinicians or consult the package insert for each drug. Your doctor can help decide whether you should take an antiviral drug this flu season and which one you should use.
Stay Home If You Get The Flu
Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications. If you get the flu:
- Stay home from work or school.
- Get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
- There are over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the symptoms of the flu (but never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever).
- Remember that serious illness from the flu is more likely in certain groups of people including people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions and young children.
- Consult your doctor early on for the best treatment, but also be aware of emergency warning signs that require urgent medical attention.
Emergency Warning Signs
Seek emergency medical care if you or someone you know is having any of following warning signs discussed below.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
Seek emergency medical care if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the signs above.
NEED A FLU SHOT?
The influenza vaccine is provided through local health departments and private health care providers in the state. You should first contact your health care provider regarding availability of the vaccine. If no vaccine is available, then you may contact the local health department that serves the area in which you reside (go to CONTACT US in the top navigation bar). You may also take advantage of the Flu Vaccine Finder located below.
Pregnant? For more information on getting the flu shot during pregnancy, click here.