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Flu cases are on the rise

It’s not too late to get a flu shot

PRINCETON — Illinois has been bit hard by the flu bug, as has much of the rest of the country.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting widespread flu activity in Illinois, with 122 confirmed influenza Intensive Care Unit admissions and six influenza-related deaths so far in the state. Illinois is one of 35 states determined to have widespread flu activity, up from 25 states during the first week of January.

Bureau/Putnam County Health Department Director of Nursing Laurie Geuther said it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. The number of influenza cases is increasing, and some of those cases have been serious and resulted in hospitalization. Also, the H1N1 strain of influenza has resurfaced this season and seems to affect the younger population, she said.

“We strongly encourage you to get the annual flu vaccination if you haven’t done so already,” Geuther said. “We have not hit peak influenza season yet. Historically, February posts the highest confirmed cases of influenza. Overall, the peak season is typically from December through March.”

The local health department does have a good supply of vaccines at both of its offices in Princeton and Hennepin. While further flu clinics won’t be scheduled, people can call either office to schedule an appointment, she said.

The  Princeton office number is  815-925-7326. The Hennepin office number is  815-925-7326. The local health department has given about 1,500 doses, combined through its two offices, so far this year, Geuther said.

As in previous years, those people most at risk for the flu are children younger than 5 years of age, people ages 65 and older, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, Geuther said.

“However, I think that you are at risk every year if you do not receive the vaccination,” Geuther said. “The best defense against the flu is the annual vaccination.”

Other important safeguards for preventing the flu are good hand-washing and eating a nutritious diet. Also, people should stay home when the are ill, and if someone is at high risk and they think they have the flu, they should see their doctor since there are anti-viral drugs which can be given, she said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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