Late flu season still impacting parts of west central Illinois

By Gary Scott on March 30, 2018 at 8:22am

Flu season isn’t over just yet in west central Illinois, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports a recent rise in Influenza B cases throughout the state.

While the number of flu cases in Illinois have dropped substantially since its peak level around the turn of the new year, the latest flu report from the Department of Public Health reveals 39 people were admitted to the ICU for the flu during the second week of March.

In terms of how Jacksonville and the surrounding areas have been affected by Influenza B, Infections Prevention Manager Sue Schleyhahn with Passavant Area Hospital says the local area has also seen a bit of recent increase. She first explains the differences between Influenza A and Influenza B, and says rises in type B cases are rather standard this time of year.

“The differences between Influenza A and Influenza B comes down to how the viruses are classified and their potential to cause epidemics or increased illness in communities. Influenza B can cause outbreaks of seasonal flu and is certainly not any less deadly than Influenza A, but the outbreaks occur less frequently than Influenza A. We typically call this time of year, ‘late season influenza,’ as we see Influenza A virus declining and the proportion of Influenza B increasing. That could lead to a second wave of flu activity,” says Schleyhahn.

Schleyhahn says the number of cases that Passavant has seen locally has indeed risen, but it remains below the national average.

“Nationally, the CDC reporting system has downgraded flu activity from widespread to more local or regional activity, and here in Jacksonville that’s exactly what’s occurring. We monitor influenza-like illness which is a fever, cough or sore throat all year long. We look at the E.D. visits of patients coming into the hospital with illness and currently we’re running about 1.96 percent of our total visits are due to influenza-like illness, and I believe the national baseline is about 2.2. We are still seeing reports of Influenza B, but not so much the Influenza A positive results,” Schleyhahn explains.

In terms of prevention, Schleyhahn says the best way to avoid contracting the flu is to get this year’s vaccine.

Schleyhahn estimates that the late flu season the area is currently experiencing could continue until mid-April.