The flu season has hit and it's hit hard. This outbreak puts the country on target to have one of the worst flu seasons on record and the Rockford-area is right in the middle of it.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks the flu by regions of the country and Wisconsin and Illinois are in the region being hit the hardest.
"We have been diagnosing two types of flu here double digits a day," says Dr. Peter Thompson, SwedishAmerican Hospital's Emergency Room vice chair.
Dr. Thompson says he is seeing both a respiratory flu with fevers, cough and congestion along with a stomach flu that includes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, something the flu vaccine should help prevent.
"The vaccine changes every year to try to prepare us for the next year but if the virus mutates too fast then everyone gets sick regardless of whether they get the vaccine," says Dr. Thompson.
The CDC says it's getting reports of people who were vaccinated against influenza becoming sick and testing positive for it.
But in a statement the CDC says, "This occurs every season. It's not possible at this time to say whether or not there is more of this happening this season than usual. This is an early season, with more influenza activity being reported at this time than has been seen during recent flu seasons."
Dr. Thompson says with a lot of students returning to school after a long holiday now is a good time for parents to remind them of what they need to do to protect themselves.
"Cover your cough because flu spreads by a droplet so if you cough or sneeze in someone's face that's an instant inoculation. Second to that is to wash your hands almost compulsively. Hand washing is one of the best known ways to keep infection from spreading," says Dr. Thompson.
The CDC says it does not know how long this high flu outbreak will last. But it says flu activity usually peaks around this month or the next.
Doctors say antibiotics do not treat the flu but they still get people asking for them. But the prescription medicine Tamiflu does help you just need to get it in the first 48 hours of your illness.
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