CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County public health officials on Tuesday warned of a big increase in suburban patients with flu-like symptoms recently.
In the past week, the Cook County Department of Public Health has seen a 32 percent increase in emergency room visits in suburban Cook County for cases of the flu, or flu-like symptoms, when compared to the week before.
That was a bigger increase than the county saw last year at this point.
Why is it happening? Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer for the Public Health Department, said it might have something to do with the weather.
“Our weather is different this year. It’s gotten colder sooner. We’ve seen snow before Thanksgiving. So there are conditions that make this something that makes our whole season a little different,” he said.
That has driven more people indoors, in close contact with other people who might be spreading flu germs.
Mason reminded people of the 3 C’s of avoiding germs.
“Clean: that is, wash your hands. Cover: cover your cough when you can; cough into your elbow. And then control: That is, if you have a fever and a cough or flu-like symptoms, you should stay home for 24 hours after your last day of fever that you’ve taken no aspirin to control it,” he said.
He also said it’s not too late to get a flu shot, which is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
“We wish more people would get a flu shot,” he said. “This particular strain of flu is susceptible to the strains that are in the current vaccine.”