Yes, we are in the middle of an epidemic in Central Illinois: influenza has blasted our communities for about three weeks now.
Is this an unusual year? As a spokesperson from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this fall, "There is no such thing as a typical influenza season." Our assessment is that the volume of illness is higher than most years and the symptoms are not as severe as they often are. Unfortunately, we are seeing many people who were vaccinated who have come down with the illness, but they seem to be not as sick as the unimmunized children.
What to look for: rapid onset of harsh cough, marked fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches all suggest influenza.
What to do: treat the symptoms with rest, increased fluids and acetaminophen or ibuprofen but be sure not to use any old-fashioned aspirin. (This can cause severe complications.) Call the office if your child's symptoms are more than mild. Those who are seen within 48 hours of onset of the illness may be candidates for medication that will shorten the illness a little and make the symptoms less severe.
Should I still get my child vaccinated? Yes! This epidemic might go on for months. Call for a flu shot today!