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Illinois flu hospitalizations surge alongside cases amid holidays

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) — Emergency room staff at Edward Hospital in Naperville are extra busy right now due to a holiday surge in flu cases.

“Just this last week, we’ve had four times as many influenza cases than we did during our highest peak three years ago,” said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, medical director of infection control.

dr Pinsky said 20 patients are currently hospitalized with the flu.

“We do have a number of patients admitted to the hospital with influenza. A majority of those are elderly or have underlying medical conditions,” he said.

Pinsky said the surge in flu cases this season is largely due to a lack of the virus over the past couple of years and the precautions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID.

The CDC said Illinois is facing high rates of the flu right now.

“If the symptoms are severe or if you have underlying medical problems or are elderly, immunocompromised, then you may need medical care,” Pinsky said.

Shelle Allen’s daughter Madi was hospitalized with the flu for nearly 100 days in 2011.

“I almost explain her cough now – then I didn’t recognize it – as almost like a smoker’s cough. Like, she had a cough, and it just kept getting worse and worse and worse,” Allen said.

Madi was put on life support and doctors told Shelle her daughter had a 1 percent chance of survival.

She said she never saw it coming.

“It’s just that, again, I as one of those people that didn’t think a healthy 12-year-old would get so sick from the flu,” she said.

Madi survived but Allen has now made it her mission to make sure others have the best chance of fighting the flu each year.

“You really have to look at all vaccines, especially your annual Flu vaccine the same way. It’s the best chance we have,” she said.

Pinsky said one of the best ways to protect yourself and others this flu season is to get the vaccine, continue to wear a mask in public and stay away from others if you feel ill.

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