'Tis the season for family get-togethers and office Christmas parties—and that means lots of germs spreading around right in the middle of cold and flu season.
Bloomington-Normal schools and hospitals are already reporting an uptick in cold and flu activity, even before holiday travelers spread more germs around.
There were two recent flu-related deaths in McLean County, said Coroner Kathy Davis. One was elderly. The other was a 25-year-old traveling to Illinois from out of state.
Some schools in Unit 5 are reporting more children out sick than usual for this time of year. Around 30 percent of students were out sick Tuesday at Parkside Elementary School in Normal, said Unit 5 spokesperson Dayna Brown. About 15 percent of students were out sick at Northpoint Elementary, she said, also above the norm (10 percent or less).
“One school couldn't report its numbers because its attendance secretary was out sick,” Brown told GLT on Tuesday.
District 87 is also seeing an increase in school absences, but it’s “not too unusual for this time of year,” said Superintendent Barry Reilly.
“Most relate to a variety of illness including flu, colds, and sore throats. Not a major increase in absences but an increase for sure,” Reilly said via email.
Meanwhile, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington said Wednesday it was asking the public to limit visits to the hospital, especially visitors under age 18 who are known to be at “high risk for transmission of viral infections.”
“Please do not visit hospitalized patients if you are not feeling well, particularly if you have had flu-like symptoms during the past seven days,” OSF HealthCare said in a statement. “Symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, cough, and/or sore throat.”
The McLean County Health Department recently shared 10 tips for staying healthy during this cold and flu season. No. 1 on the list is to get a flu shot.
“Even if our vaccine is not a good match to the circulating viruses, there’s still research that indicates people who’ve had a flu shot, if you do still happen to get the flu, the severity of those symptoms are lessened,” said Sue Grant, community health services supervisor at the McLean County Health Department.
If 10 tips are too many, Grant said to keep it simple with the “three C’s.” Cover your mouth when you cough. Keep your hands clean by washing. And contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
“We in public health like to say stay home, keep it to yourself, don’t share with others. Don’t be a martyr and come to work yourself. And definitely don’t send your kids to school if they have any symptoms at all,” Grant said.
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