PEORIA — The number of flu cases in Peoria County have almost tripled in the past two weeks, according to the Peoria City/County Health Department.
Figures released by the department show 133 people in Peoria County tested positive for the flu last week, up from 123 the week before, and only 44 the week before that.
Since only a small percentage of people actually get tested, it’s a safe bet that many more are suffering from the flu. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, flu activity is widespread across the state, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the same in every state except for Mississippi, North Dakota, Vermont, and Hawaii, where reported cases are “regional,” which is just one step below widespread.
“If you feel you are having an emergency, we absolutely want you to come to the emergency room. Especially patients with chronic diseases and those at a higher risk such as children, the elderly, and those who are vulnerable,” says director of Emergency Services Deb Trau of OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. “But if your symptoms are less severe like a cough, body aches and fever, we have several options for your care.”
Most people should start by calling their primary care doctor, or visiting an OSF Urgo or PromptCare, which are both open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Trau also provided a few suggestions to stop the spread of germs and help you stay healthy:
If you feel sick or have a fever, stay home. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches, pains and fever.
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow to avoid getting germs on your hands and spreading them to others.
If you haven’t received a flu shot this season, it’s not too late. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older be vaccinated. It takes approximately two weeks for the flu shot to become fully effective.
For children, OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois now offers around-the-clock pediatric emergency room.