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WJBD - Local News - Illinois Health Officials Say 27 Have Died From Flu Complications; Local Hospitals Seeing Increase in Flu Cases

Illinois Health Officials Say 27 Have Died From Flu Complications; Local Hospitals Seeing Increase in Flu Cases

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

New numbers are out that show Illinois is indeed experiencing a severe flu season. Local hospitals are also reporting an increase in cases. 

State Public Health Director Doctor Lamar Hasbrouck says so far more than 360 people have been hospitalized in the I-C-U…and 27 have died of flu complications in Illinois. "The flu virus strain that is in circulation is a more severe strain. It hits folks harder, their symptoms tend to be worse and tend to last a little longer," said Hasbrouck. "So we see more severe illness, more complications and more deaths with that strain."

As of Wednesday, Salem Township Hospital had 46 confirmed flu cases that began building in numbers in late December and the early part of January.

The Emergency Room Director at St. Mary's Hospital in Centralia reports a surge in volume, with many showing flu symptoms of aches, pains and fever. However, Susie Robbins says not all were tested to confirm the flu so she cannot provide exact numbers. She reports most have been able to go home after treatment, but a few more fragile patients have been admitted.

Good Samaritan Regional Health Center in Mt. Vernon had reached diversion or bypass status on Tuesday afternoon when all 110 beds were filled. Director of Marketing Victoria Woodrow says they are seeing an increased number of flu cases, but the flu was not the cause of the large number of patients that led to the diversion. She reports the hospital's census has since come down and they are no longer on diversion.

Both Hasbrouck and Robbins say it's not too late to get your flu shot. Hasbrouch says it will help prevent you from getting the flu or at least minimize your symptoms if you do get sick. However, Robbins notes it does take two to three weeks for the shots to take effect.

Meanwhile, Illinois hospitals are being asked to enforce restrictions on visitors because of the severe flu outbreak that's increasing the risk of infection throughout the state. The Illinois Department of Public Health advised hospitals Friday to temporarily bar visitors younger than 18 and to limit visitors to two per patient at one time. Other recommendations include requesting people with coughs and other symptoms not visit hospital patients.

Many hospitals already were limiting visitors because of the flu before the letter from the health department. Rob Humrickhouse of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council says if people feel sick they shouldn't visit somebody in the hospital. He says: "Stay home."

(The Associated Press and Illinois Information Service contributed information for this story)

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