Local hospitals report flu increase, H1N1 prevalent strain - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Local hospitals report flu increase, H1N1 prevalent strain

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Flu viruses are spreading in Illinois and the leading strain that's being detected in lab tests is H1N1. That's the same "swine flu" strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.

Health officials say statewide flu activity is "regional," a step below "widespread" and meaning flu has been confirmed in less than half the regions of the state.

A Chicago Department of Public Health report released Friday says the city's hospitals are reporting increasing percentages of patients coming to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms. Last week was the seventh straight week Chicago hospitals reported an increase in flu-like symptoms seen by ER doctors.

While there are fewer Illinoisans reported sick than at this time last year, and hospital admissions are rising. So far this season, there have been 61 flu admissions to hospital intensive care units.

Ten states are reporting moderate to severe outbreaks of the flu. Six people died from influenza in North Carolina so far. Three people have died in Illinois.

CDPH's Dr. Julie Morita says the illnesses are a reminder that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot. This year's influenza vaccine protects against the H1N1 strain, and vaccine supplies are good.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6 in 10 Americans hadn't received a flu shot by early November. Remember, the shot takes two weeks to reach full effect.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports doctors are busy treating patients who have the illness, along with those who have strep and pneumonia.

On Thursday's House Call, Dr. Mona Khanna explained what we need to know to protect ourselves from getting sick. She explained how to differentiate flu symptoms, cold symptoms and winter allergies, how to prevent infection from spreading and how to protect ourselves.

Flu activity typically begins building in the U.S. in December, although the peak typically isn't seen until sometime between January and March.

Last year, more than 600 people were admitted to Illinois intensive care units with the flu. At least 96 died.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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