Flu Season Updates from Cook County, IDPH and CDC; Influenza-Like Illness is Up and Widespread

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold reported Friday, January 18, 2013 that 476 people have been admitted to hospital intensive care units with the flu this season and 50 have died.

Last week the Illinois Department of Public Health reported a jump in critical illnesses and deaths from flu from December 29 to January 11, 2013. Over 370 people had been admitted to intensive care units with the flu this season in Illinois, and 27 had died, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday.

On December 29, 2013, the IDPH reported totals of almost 150 Illinois residents hospitalized and six deaths.

Google Flu Trends aggregated Google search data for Illinois.

Cook County Health & Hospital System CCHHS Influenza Surveillance Report for January 6-12, 2013 is reporting that the highest rate of visits is from patients age 0-4 years-old followed by patients age 5-17-years-old. Cook County statistics also show a peak during the last week of December 2012 for all age groups. Multiple peak rates have occurred in past years.

The flu season in previous years lasts about 12 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control This week we are at about Week 6. Flu typically peaks in January or February. The flu is particularly hard on the elderly and the very young. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a high proportion of influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in people 65 and older. Seasons when H3N2 viruses are predominant tend to be associated with greater severity in terms of more hospitalizations and deaths.

Thirty states and New York City are now reporting high ILI (Influenza-Like Illness) activity; an increase from 24 states last week. Additionally, 10 states are reporting moderate levels of ILI activity. States reporting high ILI activity for the week of January 6-12 include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming. ILI activity data indicate the amount of flu-like illness that is occurring in each state.

Nine influenza-related pediatric deaths were reported during the week of January 6-12, 2013 nationwide. Two of the deaths were associated with an influenza A (H3) virus, 4 were associated with an influenza A virus of unknown subtype, and 3 were associated with an influenza B virus. This brings the total number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported to CDC for 2012-2013 to 29.

Arlington Heights School District 25 Superintendent Sarah Jerome recently informed parents of the following actions and requests regarding action fighting the flu.

Currently we are working with staff members to enforce the following procedures:

Cleaning …
Teaching/reinforcing students’ proper and frequent hand washing (using hand
sanitizer when soap and water are not available)

Covering Sneezes and Coughs …
Educating and encouraging students to cover their mouths and noses with a
tissue when they cough or sneeze

Containing Contagions …
Sending an ill student home and having the parents keep the child home to
prevent further spread of the flu

Parents were asked as partners to review the following preventative steps that were gathered from a variety of sources including the Cook County Health Department and the
Centers for Disease Control:

Keep sick children at home.

Have a plan in place in case your child gets sick during the school day and has to be
picked up.

Make sure telephone numbers are current and working.

Plan to keep a sick child home until they are fever-free for 24 hours and feeling well
without the use of fever reducing medications.

Encourage and model good hand washing and cough hygiene.

Teach your child not to share personal items such as drinks or food.

Encourage your children to keep hands away from the nose, mouth, and eyes.

Get your child vaccinated for seasonal flu.

Wipe down hard surfaces and doorknobs to prevent the spread of germs in your home.

Flu summaries nationwide are available from the Centers for Disease Control at Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView — cdc.gov/flu/weekly/summary.htm

See also …