As the season's intense flu epidemic drags on for what feels like months and months, many people remain concerned about their health at this time. In fact, people in major US cities may be especially vulnerable to the outbreak, thanks to the close living quarters in urban areas. So are you in danger of the flu in Chicago? The Windy City may have its own set of concerns when it comes to the outbreak.
As of January 20, 2018, the flu outbreak in Chicago is still considered widespread, as explained by the Illinois Department of Public Health. This means that influenza has been confirmed by laboratory testing in the state, and influenza-like illnesses have been reported in at least half of the state's regions. In other words? The flu is pretty much everywhere in Chicago.
At this time, the flu outbreak in Chicago has hit some citizens especially hard. According to the most recent Chicago Flu Update, approximately 6 percent of emergency department visits were caused by influenza-like illnesses for the week of December 4 to 30, 2017. This data was gathered from seven hospitals. During the same week, many outpatient clinics reported influenza-like illnesses in about 5.5 percent of patients, as further explained by the Chicago Flu Update. It's clear the medical community is working very hard to mitigate the effects of this flu outbreak.
But clinics and hospitals aren't the only institutions affected by the flu. In fact, at least two Chicago area schools closed during this winter due to the flu outbreak. During the week of January 22, 2018, Aurora’s Illinois Math and Science Academy closed because 14 percent of its students, as well as 24 percent of its staff, were out sick, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The contagious, dangerous flu presented too much of a risk to students.
To make matters worse, it's basically impossible to predict when this year's flu season will finally slow down. The timing and severity of a flu season varies every year, and it may peak at any point from December to May, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While everyone can hope that the worst is over, it is not possible to say how long this year's flu will keep disrupting lives.
So if you live in the Chicago area, what steps can you take to protect yourself and your family from the flu? If you have escaped the sickness so far, there's still time to get a flu shot to stay safe through the rest of the season. If you live near the city, then check out Chicagoflushots.org to get a map of all the areas in Chicago offering flu shots. In fact, the locations offering shots at not cost to the individual are even specially denoted, if cost is a concern. Because the widespread H3N2 flu strain is still active, and other strains tend to pop up later in the flu season, it is not too late to get a flu shot, according Dr. Nirav Shaw, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, in Fox 32 Chicago. In fact, getting the shot is a brilliant move for anyone.
In addition, plenty of healthy habits can lower your chances of getting the flu. Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, washing your hands often, and keeping your hands off your face is a good start, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's all about staying away from those nasty germs. Hopefully you and your family will all be safe and flu-free, and the sickness will loosen its grip on Chicago in time for springtime activities.
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