|Flu outbreak hits McLean|
|Written by Jennifer Novoseletsky, Senior Staff|
|Monday, 14 January 2013 17:03|
Five people in McLean County have been hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit and one resident has died from the flu since November, Kera Simon, communication specialist at the McLean County Health Department, said.
In Illinois alone, hospitals have admitted nearly 370 people with flu-related symptoms, while 27 patients have died since the virus first struck.
Having only reached the middle of the season, experts working in the McLean County Health Department and ISU’s Student Health Services recommend the community receive flu shots as soon as possible.
According to the Associated Press, even with the higher number of reported flu cases, citizens are getting the message to not only guard themselves from the virus but also those around them. Even so, the supply of flu vaccines statewide is far from scarce.
Flu season runs from October through April, Simon said.
Even with flu shots, people are still susceptible to the virus, however the symptoms are less severe and the illness does not last as long as it would without a shot, she explained. The shot serves as an armor against the seasonal flu, Simon added.
“It is recommended to get your yearly flu shot well before a flu epidemic begins, so immunity can take hold in time for protection,” Jean Swearingen, medical director at ISU Student Health Services, said.
“It is also important to pay attention to general hygiene issues; stay away from others if you are sick, wash [your] hands [frequently and] cover coughs and sneezes with tissue or sleeve,” she added.
Using personal hygiene at specific times is also important to keep in mind.
“Be mindful of when you wash your hands, like for example, if you go
out to, let’s say the mall or to the grocery store, those are
high-populated areas. So as soon as you get home, it’s a good idea to
wash your hands, just as an overall precaution,” Simon explained. “Same
thing with movie theaters, restaurants, things like that.”
There are many symptoms to keep a lookout for when it comes to the flu.
“Flu includes fever, severe chills, body aches, fatigue, maybe some
mild sniffles and a cough, but the big one is the severe chest
discomfort,” Simon explained. “If you are having respiratory distress at
that time, we suggest you go seek medical attention.”
Medical attention is typically not needed unless an individual has a hard time breathing, is unable to take fluids or walk after several days or if symptoms continue to worsen, Swearingen said.
“Because it is a virus, influenza will generally run its course,”
she said. “Rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications for symptoms
will help most people get over the illness just fine.”
In years past, 2,000 students got the vaccine from Student Health
Services for free. Students were offered flu shots starting in
The McLean County Health Department also begins offering flu shots early to stress the importance of the vaccine.
“Normally, middle January is the peak of flu season,” Simon said.