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Fighting the Flu: Local Hospitals Enact New Rules as the Bug Bites Down

ROCKFORD -- Flu fears climb in the stateline as the bug bites down nationwide. Now, local health care providers are trying to stop the spread.
ROCKFORD -- Flu fears climb in the stateline as the bug bites down nationwide. Now, local health care providers are trying to stop the spread.

When you walk into Rockford's OSF St. Anthony hospital, you'll see a sign saying if you have flu symptoms or are under 18, stay away.

"We'd prefer they not come because they're also susceptible to getting the flu and they could come and be exposed to the flu here in the hospital," said Larry Brown, an infection control epidemiologist at OSF.

He says the number of flu cases the hospital has seen in the past two weeks has been around 80 and in the past month?

"We've had about 125 cases so it's a sharp increase especially in the last two weeks," said Brown.

The Winnebago County Health Department says to expect those numbers to only climb. Nearly all of OSF's cases have been the influenza type A, and guess what's included in it?

"The strain, the subtype is H1N1 which we saw back in 2009, 2010," said Mike Bacon, Public Health Director at the Winnebago County Health Department.

And much like we saw years ago, this flu's target isn't the extremely young or old.

"We're seeing more and more like young adults to 60 year olds getting influenza," Brown said.

To defend yourself, the health department says avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Also, skip work or school if you have flu like symptoms.

"Cover our cough well," said Bacon. "Actually coughing into our elbow is best as opposed to into our hand."

But both Bacon and Brown agree, for the best protection you should get the flu shot. This year's includes the H1N1 strain.

"You have to remember that influenza vaccines is not 100 percent but it is the best thing we have, it's far better than not being vaccinated," said Brown.

Brown says the most obvious flu symptoms are fever, chills, and aches. You can also get sick to your stomach. If at any point you have a hard time breathing, that's when it's time to go to the hospital.












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