December 21, 2000
|Influenza Health Fact Sheet|
SEASON'S FIRST FLU CASES CONFIRMED IN ILLINOIS
SPRINGFIELD, IL The first laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza for the 2000-01 flu season have been received by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, today announced.
Laboratory test results received by the Department late Wednesday confirmed two Chicago-area children, both under 3 years of age, were tested Dec. 16 and found to have influenza type A. One child is from Skokie and the other from North Chicago. Cultures from the two children have been sent to the Department's Chicago laboratory to identify the subtype.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted that A/Moscow, A/New Caledonia and B/Beijing will be the influenza virus strains circulating in the United States this flu season. The flu shot given this fall is formulated to provide protection against those three strains.
Dr. Lumpkin said there is no widespread influenza activity in Illinois and noted that it is not unusual to receive isolated reports of flu this time of year. The influenza season typically runs from November to April and the flu usually doesn't peak until mid-January or later. Last year, however, the heaviest flu caseloads in the state were around the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Even though the first cases have been reported, Dr. Lumpkin stressed it is not too late to get a flu shot.
"Immunizations against the flu can be given at any time during the flu season," Dr. Lumpkin said. "Those people at high risk for serious complications from the flu should have received a shot by now but, if they have not, they should get one as soon as possible."
Dr. Lumpkin urged those visiting family during the holidays to check to make sure loved ones at higher risk have received the shot.
The flu can be especially dangerous for those 65 years of age and older or those who have chronic health illnesses such as diabetes, heart problems and lung disease, and those with weakened immune systems.
Delays in the delivery of the flu vaccine this year made it necessary for some persons to postpone getting a flu shot, but the shortage has eased and CDC has reported there is a sufficient amount of vaccine for all who would like to get vaccinated. Persons considering a flu shot should check with their health care provider or local health department.
The influenza vaccine does not always protect a person from getting the flu -- it is 70 percent to 90 percent effective in preventing influenza among healthy adults -- but usually the symptoms are milder in those who have been immunized.
Typical flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, running or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.
After being infected with the virus, symptoms usually appear within two to four days. The infection is considered contagious for another three to four days after symptoms appear and illness can linger for a week or two. Each year, an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of the population contracts influenza.
of Public Health
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