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Flu season is slowly moving on

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013 3:49 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 3:50 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON – With winter months slowly moving past, it seems, so is the flu season.

Deb Piper of the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department confirmed although the number of flu cases is slowing down, it’s still uncertain when the cases will be cleared.

“The flu started early this year, mid-November. In general, it has been a more severe year throughout the country, but considered moderate in Illinois,” she said.

Piper said that only flu cases concerning pediatric deaths and intensive care admission are reported, and thus far, the county has reported no pediatric deaths, and only a few ICU admissions this year.

The health department reports about 1,400 flu immunizations given this year. Vaccines are still available at the health department.

“The vaccine this year had been considered well matched, but effectiveness is at about 50 percent,” Piper said.

She said anti-viral flu medications have been effective, but work best if given within 48 hours after symptoms first occur.

“Please stay at home if sick and limit contact with other people. Wash your hands frequently and cover your cough,” she said.

In January, the Illinois Department of Public Health warned of high levels of flu throughout the state.

“The flu strain that is predominately circulating this year is typically more severe, with more hospitalizations and deaths,” said department of public health director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck stated in a January press release.

He reported that from the beginning of October to the end of December, there has been almost 150 people admitted to hospital intensive care units with influenza like illness.

The department of public health recently warned about the current Norovirus outbreaks. A press release stated that the virus is usually not serious and most people are better in a day or two, however it can be serious in young children, the elderly and people with other health conditions.

Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping. Other, less common symptoms, include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

To avoid the Norovirus:

•  Frequently wash hands, especially after using the restroom and before eating or preparing food.

• Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately using a bleach-based cleaner.

• Increase the frequency of cleaning high touch surfaces such as door knobs.

• Do not work as a food handler while ill with diarrhea or vomiting.

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