Spike in Flu Cases - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Spike in Flu Cases

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) -

Hundreds of cases of the flu are being reported in Winnebago County and Stephenson County.

At this time last year, Winnebago County only saw 12 cases. And it could get worse before it gets better.

 Stephenson County has seen 115 cases so far this flu season. To put that into perspective, last flu season, it saw a total of 79. And this season isn't even close to being over.

"The flu shot does not mean 100% that you will not get the flu," said Stephenson County Public Health Administrator Craig Beintema "Because we do have virus mutations, they migrate and it might just be that particular one that you do not have an immunity."

Once the virus strikes an area, it is easy for it to spread.

Case and point, for Winnebago County where just this week alone the Winnebago County Health Department reports more than 600 cases. More than 200 of those are students.

Stephenson County schools are also seeing the impact of the flu on students with a record number of absences.

"We are seeing a peak of about eight percent in one of the schools." said Beintema, "We haven't hit six percent in several years."

That school, Blackhawk Elementary, saw nearly 200 absences this week.

The Rockford area is among the worst hit with flu in the entire nation. Walgreens Pharmacist Adam Setter says the holidays are partly to blame.

"I think is has something to do with the flu hit this area before Thanksgiving and people were around friends and family a lot more," said Setter "And it kind of just sky rocketed from there."

And while the flu shot may not be as effective as health experts hoped, Setter says you should still get one because it can reduce the severity of symptoms that so many people in our area are now feeling.

Cases could dwindle over the holiday break but health experts expect it to peak the second week of January when school resumes.

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