Flu 'Widespread' in Illinois; Suburban Cook Especially Hard-hit

In DuPage, by the end of 2013, nine patients had been admitted to area intensive care units with flu symptoms. Health department officials say the number of sick people is on the rise.

CDC Flu Surveillance Report. (Credit: Centers for Disease Control)
CDC Flu Surveillance Report. (Credit: Centers for Disease Control)
Flu activity in Illinois has increased significantly over recent weeks. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports more than 120 patients have been admitted to intensive care units for flu, and six people have died statewide. All of the deaths have been in suburban Cook County.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting more young people are being affected this year.

In DuPage County, influenza-like illness "is estimated to be high," according to a Health Department report. The most recent data, from the week ending Dec. 28, states nine people have been admitted to area intensive care units. No deaths have been reported in DuPage, but the rate of flu is increasing.

Suburban Cook County has been hit especially hard. In addition to six deaths, suburban Cook has seen 44 ICU admissions. Cook County Department of Public Health officials issued a warning this week and encouraged everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot.

"Since the activity hasn’t even peaked yet, we expect more ICU admissions, and potentially deaths, in the coming weeks," CCDPH Chief Operating Officer Dr. Terry Mason said.

Statewide, flu activity is now listed as "widespread" on the Centers for Disease Control's weekly influenza surveillance report.

Like DuPage, the most recent statewide flu illness data was submitted by Dec. 28. Data collected only one week prior, for the week ending Dec. 21, listed Illinois as having only localized flu activity—not yet having reached the "regional" outbreak level. In one week, the number of flu cases spiked, bypassing the regional categorization and climbing to "widespread," the highest level on the CDC's surveillance chart. 

Flu facts from the CDC

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine, according to the CDC. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated:

  • People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
    • People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
    • Pregnant women.
    • People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older.
  • People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications (see list above).
  • Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
  • Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old.
Who should NOT get vaccinated?

Influenza vaccine is not approved for children younger than 6 months of age.

People who have had a severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine should generally not be vaccinated.

There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician:

  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with or without a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated)
  • People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine.

Where to get vaccinated

Flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, doctor's offices and quick care clinics. The vaccine also is available on a walk-in basis at either of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital's Immediate Care facilities. Hours for both facilities are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

To find locations:


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