SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting 2,526 confirmed and probable cases of H1N1 influenza in Illinois, including 10 deaths. Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of 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.
“At this point, the majority of people in Illinois who contracted H1N1 have not become seriously ill and have recovered without being hospitalized,” said Dr. Arnold. “The H1N1 influenza virus continues to circulate in Illinois, in the U.S. and worldwide. Although we expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and even more deaths from this virus, it is extremely important for people to continue to take precautions to keep from becoming sick and spreading the virus, especially if they have underlying health conditions. I encourage everyone to follow the three “C’s” – clean your hands, cover your cough and contain your germs by staying home when you’re sick.”
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. The virus continues to impact mostly younger people, so far it has not caused significant illness and death in the elderly as is normally seen with seasonal influenza.
Four of the Illinois H1N1 influenza related deaths were Chicago residents, four were suburban Cook County residents, one was a resident of Kane County and one was a resident of Lake County. For confidentiality reasons and out of respect for the families, the Illinois Department of Public Health is not releasing any additional information about the four deaths.
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.
The CDC is offering new guidance on travel outside of the U.S. and also on protocol for parents of children attending summer camps. In general, if a child is ill, they should not go to camp until seven days after their onset of their illness, or four days after their illness stops.
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.