Flu season hitting Illinois harder, earlier than usual

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CHAMPAIGN--Flu season is in full swing.

"A higher fever of like 100, 101, 102," said Dr. J.R. Hoffman, the assistant medical director at the Carle Clinic on Curtis. "And with that you get to feel like a truck hit you."

And that truck is traveling through Illinois at a rapid rate.

"The Midwest is where influenza decided to take hold and it will spread from here to other places," said Hoffman.

The CDC reports the number of cases statewide is already widespread.

"It's come on earlier this year than usual," said Hoffman.

At this time last year, there wasn't a single influenza outbreak in Illinois. But this season, the state has had six so far. Hoffman says part of the reason is because new versions of the virus leave patients vulnerable.

"As these strains change, people's immunity against that strain may be higher or lower depending on what they've seen before," said Hoffman.

As for what we can expect to see in Central Illinois, Hoffman says an outbreak is still possible.

"The potential is always there," said Hoffman. "I think we do a pretty good job in this area with vaccinations, so that certainly helps slow the spread."

And since we have so many cases, so early on, this flu season might be shorter than the last.

"Certainly the peak should end and we may have some lingering cases into January and February," said Hoffman. "But not too many."

But the best way to avoid the virus altogether is to keep clean and get vaccinated.
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