Despite spring temperatures, flu cases in Clark and Champaign counties have continued to rise as health officials warn the public that flu season, which beings in October and can last into May, isn’t over yet.
According to the latest data from the Clark County Combined Health District, 18 patients have been hospitalized for the flu in Clark County between March 2 and March 9 — more than double the five-year average of seven.
This brings the total of flu cases for Clark County’s 2019 flu season to 112.
Champaign County had two patients hospitalized during the March 2-9 time period, bringing their total 10.
Anna Jean Petroff, an epidemiologist with the Clark County Combined Health District, aid even though the numbers seem high, they seem to be following a trend.
“I think our numbers follow a statewide trend and nationwide trend,” Petroff said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, flu-like illness peaked in the month for February, however, 26 states were still experiencing high levels of flu activity.
Petroff said that Clark County is currently approaching its second “peak” of the flu season.
“It’s not uncommon for there to be two peaks in a flu season,” Petroff said. “Typically, the first peak is larger than the second peak, but we’re seeing the opposite this year. This could be due to a number of things, but one could be that our winter was pretty mild and we only recently started having harsh weather that keeps people inside.”
Petroff said that when people stay cooped inside it can allow illness to spread easier.
Two people have died from the flu this year, a number that has not gone up since the initial deaths towards the beginning of the year.
The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the most deadly in Clark County, according to data kept by the health district that goes back about 10 years.
Eight people died from the outbreak, according to the data, and more than 250 were hospitalized.
Dr. Joe Morman of Family Physicians Springfield, said last year was the worst years he had ever seen for the flu.
“Last year was the worst year that our practices had faced in as long as I have been here in 21 years,” Morman said.
Morman advises that the best way to avoid getting the flu, other than vaccinations and washing your hands, is to avoid big crowds.
“Be careful in airports or other places of large volume,” Morman said. “This virus is very contagious, the droplets spread and it come come from sneezes, coughs or contact with an infected surface.”
Morman said that if someone begins to develop symptoms like high fever, muscle aches and chills, consider seeing a medical professional.
“If we can diagnose it for them, we can get them better much quicker with fewer complications,” Morman said.