Flu Season Reaches Peak

You might think a winter virtually free of ice, snow and bitterly cold temperatures means fewer people coming down with the flu. But here in central Illinois, the above-average temperatures have just delayed the onset of what is typically considered the peak of flu season, mid-January through February.

Now, just one month out from spring, the flu bug is biting.

Local doctors report a recent increase in patients with flu-like symptoms. High fever, sore throat and body aches are all typical signs. And for the first time this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 10 percent of patients have tested positive for flu. A sure sign flu season is here. 

To protect yourself and family, follow these steps from Gustavo Mosquera, MD, from Memorial Physician Services’ Family Medical Center of Chatham.

  •  Get a flu shot. It’s the first; and most important step to prevent the flu. And, it’s not too late for it to provide protection this winter.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Use soap and water and scrub thoroughly for 15 seconds, especially after coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid crowds. One way the flu virus spreads is when droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze touch the mouth or nose of someone nearby. If you know a place is going to be crowded, don’t go.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the less possibility there is to affect others,” Dr. Mosquera said. “People think they get the flu from the shot, but it’s simply not true. You may feel a little sick after the vaccine, but that’s the point of the shot. It wakes up your immune system and keeps you protected from something much worse.”

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated. Pregnant women, seniors and children younger than 2 are especially at risk. If you haven’t already been vaccinated, call your  primary care physician. Flu season can last through June. And if you are sick, stay home, get plenty of rest and drink lots of liquids. You should stay home for seven days after symptoms began or until you’ve been symptom-free for 24 hours. If your symptoms are severe, call your doctor.