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Flu Season Mild So Far In McLean County

flu vaccine
David Goldman
In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot.

Health officials in McLean County say flu season has been relatively mild this fall.
Advocate BroMenn Medical Center reports only a few flu cases at its hospital and outpatient clinics so far.

Lynn Hutley, Advocate spokesperson, said some of those flu cases date back to late summer.

OSF Healthcare St. Joseph Medical Center has had one confirmed case so far this flu season, according to OSF spokesperson Libby Allison.

Illinois State University's Student Health Services reports 13 students have been diagnosed with the flu this fall based on clincial symptoms. 

“I don’t think we’ve seen an earlier flu season,” said ISU’s medical director, Dr. Anne Risk. “We are seeing a lot of viral illness but probably flu in the typical amount at this point.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports eight intensive care hospitalizations due to the flu, all in patients 65 or older.

Risk warned college students must be careful too.

“It is spread more quickly in confirmed quarters, so dormitories, classrooms, big buildings, the more people you are around, the more likely you are to catch the virus,” she said.

Risk noted statewide data show the current rate of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnessesstands at 1.79%, which is lower than the state baseline of 1.9%.

She added it too soon to predict when the flu virus could spike this winter, noting last winter’s spike in flu cases happened in mid-February.

“Until we start seeing the flu, it’s hard to know if the flu vaccine this year has covered all of the strains that we are seeing,” Risk said. “Some years are better than others.”

ISU is hosting a flu shot clinic for students on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bone Student Center. The university hosted flu clinics in early October for all students, faculty and staff.

There have been no flu-related deaths in Illinois so far this year. At least seven children in Illinois died from the flu last year.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.