By Benjamin Yount
Illinois News Network
The latest report on the flu in Illinois shows a dip in the number of people getting sick. But one doctor said Illinois’ flu season is not slowing down yet.
Dr. Brian Curtis, director of Physician Practice for OSF HealthCare Medical Group, said that the latest report from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) showing a dip in flu cases for the first week of the year isn’t a sign that flu season has peaked.
“Usually the flu season will last two to three weeks, then come down,” Curtis said. “And then, about two to three weeks later you get a second spike, a second wave of illnesses that come through.”
The latest IDPH report says 218 people went to the emergency room in the first week of 2018. The season total is now more than 600.
Curtis said that most of the people who’ve already gotten sick in Illinois are either very old or very young. He said the latest outbreak is among middle-aged folks, which can cause some of its own problems.
“The big thing is that if you are sick, you need to stay home,” Curtis said. “Don’t try and tough it out. Don’t go to work. Don’t send your kids to school.”
So why is this flu season so early, and so strong? Curtis said blame the flu vaccine.
“Usually the flu vaccine is 50 percent to 60 percent effective. Now you’re looking at 20 percent to 30 percent effective,” Curtis said. “So you’re going to have a worse flu season.”
Curtis said even if the vaccine is only 20 percent to 30 percent effective, that’s better than not getting a flu shot shot at all.
The Center for Disease Control’s latest flu report says every state but Hawaii is reporting widespread flu activity, and the number of flu cases across the country is starting to level off but not decline.