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Flu arrives early in Whiteside County

No cases yet in Lee County

The flu has hit Whiteside County early, and the health department is urging people to get vaccinated.

Whiteside County had 25 confirmed cases of influenza as of Wednesday – up from 10 a week ago, said Beth Fiorini, administrator of the Whiteside County Health Department.

Lee County has no cases of the illness, said Kathy Ferguson, Lee County Health Department’s administrator, and Dr. Tim Appenheimer, chief medical officer at KSB Hospital in Dixon.

Flu season runs from as early as October to as late as May, with the peak coming in January and February.

“It’s making me nervous: If people aren’t getting their flu shots now, then what’s it going to look like later in the season?” Fiorini said.

Over the last few years, in the midst of the H1N1 scare, people were very wary of the flu and got the vaccine, she said.

But this year, with the flu flying under the radar, people might be too comfortable, she said.

“It might not seem important, but we want as many people as possible to get the shot to not only protect themselves, but also to stop the spread of the flu to others,” Fiorini sad. “It’s quick, easy and cheap.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control recommend everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine.

But both agencies say it’s especially important for those at high risk of serious complications from influenza, including young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or lung disease; and people 65 and older. Both organizations recommend caregivers of those people get the vaccine, too.

Flu shots are available at the county health department, as well as through local flu shot clinics and at many drugstores.

Symptoms of the flu include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue.

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