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Flu in Illinois leveling off, not going away

By Benjamin Yount 
Illinois News Network

The flu in Illinois isn’t going away anytime soon. The Illinois Department of Public Health says its latest report for the CDC shows a dip in cases, but not a drop in activity.

The state’s report for the second week of the year shows flu cases are down from their peak in December and are holding steady.

Melaney Arnold with the state health department said that doesn’t mean that flu season is ending.

“Flu is unpredictable. We could see an increase later on,” Arnold said. “There are different strains of the flu. H3N2 has been the predominant strain, but there are other strains that circulate. Including H1N1 and Influenza B strains, those typically come a little bit later in the season.”

Arnold says that’s why the IDPH is still asking people to get a flu shot.

Illinois’ report says 175 people were checked into intensive care because of the flu in the second week of 2018, which makes 830 admissions for this flu season. One child has died.

Arnold said that’s about all the information that the state tracks.

“Illinois is similar to the CDC in what it tracks when it comes to influenza,” Arnold said. “We look at influenza-related ICU hospital admissions, influenza pediatric deaths, and influenza outbreaks. And that’s similar to the CDC.”

Arnold says that’s why the IDPH is still asking people to get a flu shot. She said that way, if the flu makes a comeback, you’ll still be protected.

Doctors say this year’s flu shot is about 20 percent effective. That’s far less than the 50 percent to 60 percent the vaccine usually carries.

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