WOODSTOCK – The United States experiences “flu season” peaks between December and February, but the disease typically lasts from October through May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Flu is not widespread in the county at this point; it’s trending upward,” said Keri Zaleski, community information officer for the McHenry County Department of Health.
Centegra Health System’s chief medical information officer and infectious disease specialist, Irfan Hafiz, said it is difficult to predict how flu seasons might play out.
“Wisconsin and Missouri already had widespread diseases as of last week,” Hafiz said Thursday. “For us, it’s been less widespread. “Experts expect the number of patients with flu-like symptoms in Illinois to increase within the next week, Hafiz said.
Both Zaleski and Hafiz stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, especially to protect the young, old and those with medical conditions.
Hafiz said flu vaccines lessen symptoms and reduce complications.
“It’s always a good idea to get it – it doesn’t have to be perfect,” Hafiz said. “It just has to be good enough.”
Besides the vaccine, it is always a good idea to wash hands frequently, cover coughs and stay away from anyone who might be sick during flu season.
Hafiz said Centegra will be implementing its annual hospital restrictions starting Tuesday – children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to visit patients in the hospital.
Zaleski added she hoped students not attending classes because of winter break would help break the disease’s spread.
CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the U.S. since 2010. The government organization also suggests getting a flu shot rather than using the nasal spray vaccine during the 2017 to 2018 season.
McHenry County residents can track the virus in the county by clicking on the “flu surveillance” document on the Health Department’s website.
“I know people are really tempted, if they’re sick, to go to holiday gatherings,” Zaleski said. “Stay home – you don’t want to risk getting other people sick.”