By Kelly Youngblood
Classrooms may be emptier than usual but doctors’ offices have been pretty full, mostly due to a recent rise in the influenza virus throughout the Champaign-Urbana area.
“We are definitely seeing an uptick in cases of the flu, both type A and type B currently,” said Dr. Brian McGinn, a pediatrician at Carle Clinic on Curtis Road in Champaign.
McGinn said they started seeing an increase in patients with influenza about two to three weeks ago. He said the Champaign region seems to be “right in the peak of flu season.”
Awais Vaid, Director of Planning and Research at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said local emergency rooms and clinics are seeing a very high number of cases.
He said more than 10 percent of all visits at convenient care is due to the flu.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported the activity level of influenza has been widespread throughout the state since January.
Tom Davis, Superintendent of Heritage Community Unit School District #8 and Principal of Heritage High School in Broadlands, said they have had many students in their district missing this week due to illness.
On Wednesday, over 50 students were absent from the Heritage elementary school and junior high. On Tuesday, 46 students were absent.
McGinn said this year’s flu vaccine has been found to be about 50 percent effective at preventing the flu. If you get the vaccine and still contract the flu, the symptoms will be much milder though McGinn said.
Symptoms of influenza include high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat body aches and headache.
The flu is typically spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks, etc.
To prevent the spread of the flu, McGinn recommends people cough into their elbow and wash hands routinely.
He also said anyone over the age of 6 months should receive a flu vaccine annually.
McGinn said it’s not too late to get a flu shot. While the typical flu season lasts from December to March, it can go as late as May.
For more information about influenza, go to the Illinois Department of Public Health website.