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Flu Update

THIS YEAR’S FLU season is shaping up as a doozy in Chicago, as well as in the rest of the nation. More than 900 lab tests in Chicago for the flu have come back positive since the end of September, compared with 240 during the same time period last year, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). The actual number of flu cases is likely much higher because not everyone gets tested.

The CDPH states that the risk of influenza infection is currently high and, as such, recommends that physicians continue to vaccinate all Chicagoans six months of age and older. Influenza activity is “high and at its peak,” CDPH said, noting this season has “resulted in a higher number of pediatric deaths earlier in the season compared to previous years.” One child died in early January from complications related to the flu; the child was the first to die in the state this year from the flu.

As of mid-January, the total number of specimens testing positive for influenza was higher than for last year by 4.4%, but lower than the 2017-2018 flu season by 13.2% according to the CDPH. The majority of flu cases were typed as influenza B (64%) while the rest (36%) were typed as influenza A. This is the first time in decades influenza B has been the most common type of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The median age for influenza B so far is 31.5 years while the median age for influenza A is 58 years.

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