Illinois health professionals weigh in on flu outbreak

9:25 PM, Jan 12, 2013   |    comments
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Image courtesy of Kim Lenhardt.

(KSDK) -- Health officials have labeled Illinois as one of the 24 states hardest hit by the widespread flu outbreak this season.

Express Medical Care in Fairview Heights has much busier with flu patients this season.

"We didn't see as many cases {last season}. But this year we're just getting a flood of patients with influenza. And a lot of patients come to our clinic because we're urgent care and they can't get in to their regular doctors as soon as they need to," says Physician Assistant Jayme Sibley.

Sibley says she's not sure why the flu has been so widespread across the country or in Illinois, but it caught a lot of places off guard.

"Last year we didn't see nearly this many cases. So what happened was we did have a lot of influenza shots. And I think that's part of the reason people are running out this year...because we didn't order as many last year because it wasn't as bad."

Hospitals are getting flooded too. We're told St. Elizabeth's in Belleville did 338 influenza tests the week ending January 5. That's three times more than the same week last flu season.

Their emergency room has seen more people with flu symptoms. So has St. Anthony's Hospital in Alton.

"We see several cases a day nowadays," says Emergency Room Charge Nurse Brian Russell. "Specific statistics I couldn't tell you, but we have had an increase of flu cases in the ER here."

Russell says this has been a unique season.

"We often fear picking up something that a patient might bring in, but we've done well with the flu this time."

Jayme Sibley says anyone who thinks they MAY have the flu should be seen by a doctor within 48 hours. And if you're in Illinois and you're lucky enough to have not gotten the flu yet, she encourages you to get the vaccine.




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