Seasonal flu cases are increasing in Cook County, mirroring an increase nationally.
Cook County Department of Public Health monitors flu activity through a weekly surveillance of reports from a sample of hospitals, private doctors’ offices and lab data of positive flu tests. For the week of Dec. 2-8, the latest figures available, there was a 3.38 percent increase. There were 78 specimens that tested positive, according to the health department’s website.
Three cases of the flu where the patient required hospitalization were reported, the site stated. Additionally, three Cook County schools reported increased student absenteeism due to the flu, it stated.
Flu season runs from October to May, peaking in February, health experts said. It is impossible to predict how mild or severe the season will be, according to experts.
So far, the season has been busy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. “Flu activity continues to increase across the United States. The nation is experience an early flu season with high levels of activity concentrated in the south central and southeastern regions at this time,” the site states.
The CDC received reports from 18 states about widespread geographical influenza activity for the week of Dec. 2-8 while only eight states report activity the week before, according to statistics.
In Cook County, there are more cases of the flu being reported than this time last year, according to county health department information.
The best way to prevent the flu is getting a vaccine, health experts said. The CDC states the vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of illness, hospitalization or even death from the flu, she said. It takes about two weeks for the body to build antibodies to provide protection against the flu.
The CDC has a HealthMap Vaccine Finder to help you locate places where flu shots are available.
People should be careful during holiday gatherings with family and friends to protect themselves and others from the flu.
Getting a flu shot is the best prevention followed by taking everyday precautions like washing your hands, sneeze into a tissue and throw it away and don’t touch your mouth, eyes or nose, the CDC site states.