While west central Illinois saw some warmer weather this weekend, that certainly doesn’t mean flu season has gone away.
Health departments throughout the state and much of the country are reporting what look to be record numbers of flu cases this year, with west central Illinois included. And while area residents wait for the warmer weather of spring, it’s important to review some of the ways to avoid getting sick.
Jackie Berringer with the Morgan County Health Department joined WLDS’ AM Conversation recently to talk about that very subject of how to best avoid the flu. While there are flu epidemics reported nearly every year, Berringer says this year’s flu outbreak is perhaps the most widespread she’s seen in years.
“Now remember that we have flu epidemics every year, because that’s what we call the flu season, but I don’t know that we’ve seen it nationwide like this in a long time. We know that the predominant strain that;s out there is H-3, and when that strain is the predominant strain, it usually brings along some pretty bad diseases,” says Berringer.
Berringer explains that, despite the fact that this year’s strain was covered by the flu vaccine, those vaccines can only help fend off the illness to a certain degree.
“(H-3) was one that was covered in the flu vaccine. But still, vaccines are one of those things that we have in our arsenal to help people to get through seasons like this, but it doesn’t make us invincible. It’s just one of the tools to help reduce the risk of illness and help reduce the risk of severe illness,” Berringer explains.
Berringer also provides a timeframe for how long the outbreak might last, and shares some daily tips that can help folks stay healthy.
“You’ve got to consider that we’re probably in (flu season) for another twelve to thirteen weeks, so if you haven’t gotten the flu vaccine, come and get one. There are things that we always talk about that we have to remember like washing our hands, keeping our hands down away from our eyes and our nose and our mouths. Every surface that we touch has germs on it, so we need to kind of dial ourselves back a little bit and think about washing our hands before we eat and after we go to the bathroom and what that really does indeed mean,” Berringer says.
To set up an appointment to receive a flu vaccine or speak with a medical professional, contact the Morgan County Health Department at 217-245-5111. For those wanting to hear more from Berringer, listen to our entire interview online at WLDS or WEAI.com.