SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, is reminding the public that the H1N1 influenza is still circulating in Illinois and people should continue to take steps to stay healthy and limit the spread of the virus.
“So far, most people in Illinois who contracted H1N1 have not become seriously ill and have recovered without being hospitalized,” said Dr. Arnold. “Although we expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and even more deaths from this virus, people can reduce their chances of getting sick and spreading the virus by continuing to follow the three “C’s” – clean your hands, cover your cough and contain your germs by staying home when you’re sick.”
As of Friday morning, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting 1,984 confirmed and probable cases of H1N1 influenza and five deaths.
Most people infected with this virus so far have experienced regular flu symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. A significant number of people have reported vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone experiencing severe flu-like symptoms should contact a medical professional right away.
Like seasonal influenza, some people may be at greater risk of serious complications related to novel H1N1 infection and illness. People who are at high risk of serious seasonal flu-related complications include pregnant women, children younger than 5-years-old, people with chronic medical conditions and people 65-years and older. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, asthma, heart disease and lung disease. Individuals with underlying conditions should contact their physician at the onset of illness and not wait for severe illness. Antiviral medications are most effective if given in the first 24 to 48 hours and there is the possibility antivirals can be prescribed to individuals at risk as a preventive measure.
People who become sick with a flu-like illness should stay home for seven days after symptoms begin or until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
Because H1N1 influenza has been circulating in Illinois, the World Health Organization Phase 6 declaration does not change what the state is currently doing to keep people healthy and protected from the virus. Phase 6 in an indicator of geographic spread not severity
The Department will remain consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting protocols and will update H1N1 influenza cases and death on its Web site, www.idph.state.il.us, once a week on Fridays. Local health departments will have the most updated information. If there is a discrepancy between the state numbers and local health department number, data from the local health departments should be used as the most accurate number.