Suburban Cook County is experiencing an increase in influenza-like illness with 44 confirmed influenza ICU admissions and six influenza related deaths, the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) announced Wednesday.
CCDPH’s chief operating officer, Dr. Terry Mason, is encouraging everyone six months of age and older to get a flu shot.
“Of the 44 ICU admissions the ages range from toddler to late 90s,” Mason said. “That demonstrates that anyone can get the flu and since the activity hasn’t even peaked yet, we expect more ICU admissions and potentially deaths in the coming weeks. It’s extremely important to get your flu shot now; it’s the best defense against the flu virus.”
The flu vaccine is available at local pharmacies, family doctors and some grocery stores throughout suburban Cook County.
Influenza is a health concern for people of all ages including young children and pregnant women. However, individuals with a weakened immune system and people aged 65 years and older are at a higher risk for complications from the flu, according to the CCDPH.
Influenza is a virus that affects the respiratory system and is spread primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of influenza can range from mild to life-threatening and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.
To limit the spread of flu, residents should practice common sense and 3 Cs:
- Clean – properly wash your hands frequently
- Cover – cover your cough and sneeze
- Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick
For more information about the CCDPH's influenza surveillance, or to use the Flu Vaccine Finder, visit its website.