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Area Flu Cases Continue to Rise, Reach 'Intense' Levels

Chicago and its surrounding suburbs are seeing a steady rise in flu cases.

Area health agencies are reporting that this year's flu season is particularly intense.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring "widespread" influenza activity in Illinois this year.

According to the Cook County Department of Public Health the number of people experiencing influenza-like symptoms continues to increase in the suburbs. Those suffering from the illness are showing symptoms that are much more severe than in previous years. 

Drug manufacturers have also been feeling the effects of the increased number of cases. The makers of Tamiflu, which slows down flu symptoms, reported a shortage of the drug, according to Reuters.

The CDC is reporting that the Great Lakes region is the nation's hardest hit with about 60 percent of people checked for the flu testing positive. 

Google's Flu Trends page classified the flu rate in Illinois and Chicago as 'intense' and shows levels much higher than previous years.

Several local hospitals have been forced this week to temporarily detour ambulances as the number of patients sick with the flu overwhelmed emergency rooms, according the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Department of Public Health recommends a few simple steps to help prevent the spread of the disease. The most important is a flu shot for everyone six months and older. Other steps include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.  Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Don't share cups, straws or anything that goes in the mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, and promptly discard used facial tissues.
  • If you are sick, stay home.

Read More: Where to Get a Flu Shot Locally

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Updated, 10 a.m.

Gammychris January 11, 2013 at 01:33 PM
This is a nasty bug. Too many people sick. I feel for all of you who get it and can't take off work in fear of losing your jobs. Everyone should have sick days!!!
ann paris January 12, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Good hygiene and common sense can do a lot to help prevent the spread of this flu, but most adults don't realize how important hand washing is. If you can't stay home from work when you're sick, then at least be mindful of your coworkers, and keep your distance. Teach your children to cover their mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. When at the store, have you noticed how many adults, and kids, cough and sneeze openly without regard to anyone else? These are the same people who don't wash their hands regularly. GOOD HYGIENE AND COMMON SENSE WILL GO A LONG WAY IN PREVENTING THE SPREADV OF THIS FLU.

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