The flu continues to spread across central and southern Kane County, but area hospitals report they can keep up with the number of cases.
“Our emergency room has seen overall volumes up 30 percent in the past few weeks,” said Dr. Mark Daniels, vice president of medical affairs for Delnor Hospital in Geneva. “The staff has estimated that about 10 percent of everybody they are seeing have flulike symptoms. But most of the people who are presented to the emergency room don’t need to be hospitalized. People who are showing up at the hospital have other health problems.”
Those numbers are consistent with what the Kane County Health Department is seeing. The department is reporting about 8.94 percent of hospital emergency room visits between Dec. 23 to 29 were for influenzalike illnesses. The department will release the latest numbers today.
The flu is hitting earlier and harder than usual. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that from the beginning of October through the end of December, almost 150 people were admitted to hospital intensive units throughout the state with flulike illness, compared to two ICU hospitalizations at this time last year.
Illinois is not alone; forty-one states are reporting widespread geographic flu activity.
There have been six flu-related deaths in the state, compared to none last year. Kane County has not reported any flu-related deaths this season and neither has DuPage County, Daniels said.
“Last year was a nonevent in terms of the flu season,” he said.
As a result, Daniels said people might have waited longer to get a flu vaccine this year, which could add to the severity of this flu season. But Daniels said the best defense against getting the flu is a shot, and he urged everyone to get vaccinated.
Other Kane County hospitals are seeing a high amount of flu activity.
“We are close to capacity ... ,” said Barb Douglas, director of emergency and trauma services at Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora. “People may have to wait longer than they typically do. It depends on the day.”
This year, 8 to 9 percent of patients going to the hospital’s emergency room have flulike symptoms, Douglas said.
“Last year, it never got above 5 percent,” she said.