The member agencies of the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium are advising residents that seasonal flu activity has increased sharply in recent weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that influenza-like-illness activity is widespread across most of the country, including Illinois, according to a news release from the Lake County Health Department. CDC’s latest surveillance data show current flu activity is similar to what was seen during the peak of the 2014-15 season; the most severe in recent years.
Seasonal influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms of the flu virus include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Flu is spread primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
“The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated,” said Dr. Terry Mason, NIPHC president and CEO of the Cook County Department of Public Health. “We know the best way to protect yourself and your family from getting sick is by getting the flu shot. The vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and tens of thousands of hospitalizations every year, and can lessen the severity of symptoms.”
In addition to getting the flu shot, follow these steps to help prevent the spread of the flu:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)