SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), is reminding Illinoisans not to become complacent about the H1N1 flu and to continue taking preventive actions. To date, there are 794 confirmed H1N1 flu cases being reported in Illinois and most have been mild.
“Although media coverage of the H1N1 flu has subsided, the virus is still circulating and more confirmed cases are being reported. People with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, lung disease and pregnancy need to remain particularly vigilant as H1N1 flu has been implicated in the deaths of eight people in the United States, including one in St. Louis,” said Dr. Arnold.
Influenza is responsible for 20,000-40,000 deaths each year in the United States, and given that new cases of H1N1 flu continue to occur, it is likely that in the coming days and months there will be people with severe and fatal influenza illness in Illinois, particularly among individuals who have underlying health problems.
Dr. Arnold advises anyone who has flu symptoms and an underlying health condition to contact a health care professional about treatment. The elderly and children younger than 5-years of age with flu like symptoms should contact their physician he said.
Symptoms of H1N1 flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. Anyone experiencing severe symptoms should seek medical care.
Persons considered at high-risk for complications of H1N1 virus infection are the same as those at high-risk from seasonal influenza. As more epidemiologic and clinical data become available, these high-risk groups may be revised.
Groups at higher risk for seasonal influenza complications include:
• Children younger than 5-years-old (risk for severe complications from seasonal influenza is highest among children younger than 2-years-old)
• Pregnant women
• Adults 65-years of age and older
• Persons with the following conditions: Chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
• Adults and children who have immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by medications such as corticosteroids and chemotherapy, or diseases such as HIV/AIDS, adrenal disease, or lupus
• Persons younger than 19-years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
To stay healthy, follow the three C’s:
• Clean – properly wash your hands frequently
• Cover – cover your cough and sneeze
• Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick
Dr. Arnold said the Department will continue to monitor the state for signs of increased virulence of H1N1 flu.