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H1N1 Flu Virus Surfaces In Chicago

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CBS Chicago (con't)

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(CBS) – Nearly two dozen cases of the potentially deadly H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in the Chicago area, CBS 2 has learned.

Finding the flu virus among patients at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood is keeping special machines working overtime right now. Seven patients at Loyola tested positive for Influenza A on Christmas Eve. Five of them had the H1N1 strain known as swine flu.

They’ve detected a sudden burst of the 2009 swine flu spreading right here in the Chicago area. Microbiologist Paul Schreckenberger says last week alone, 21 patients tested positive for Influenza A. All but one of those cases were the 2009 H1N1 swine flu.

“We don’t know why it’s emerging,” Schreckenberger says.

He says people may have gotten a false sense of security over the last couple of flu seasons, which were comparatively mild.

In Texas, the rush is on for flu shots. The very flu shots that Texans Dustin Wright, and his wife, Ashley, never received.

Dustin was hit with H1N1 flu strain, or swine flu, and he died Dec. 5.

“You don’t think it will happen to you,” Ashley says.

H1N1 is causing 80 percent of the flu infections this year in Texas. It’s the same strain that triggered a nationwide pandemic in 2009. But at that time, it was new. Now, it’s not, and the current flu vaccine offers protection.

“That really is, in terms of prevention and protection, the best method, in terms of reducing transmission or spread of influenza,” Rush University Medical Center physician Alexander Tomich says.

But remember, it takes two weeks after you get the shot to build up the anti-bodies that provide protection from the flu. So, the earlier you get it the better.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than half of all Americans get a flu shot each year.

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