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home : news : north central illinois   April 30, 2016

1/9/2013 6:05:00 AM
It's the flu season again - and we're getting pounded

Dr. Michelle Vasquez, a Peru family practitioner, examines 15-month-old Austin Brown with a stethoscope while father Eric restrains him and mother Stephanie looks on. The Brown family recently endured a bout with flu-like symptoms and health officials now report flu season is in full swing. The La Salle County Health Department encourages vaccines for patients 6 months and older and warns the 2012-13 flu season “has started earlier and hit harder” than in previous years.NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
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Dr. Michelle Vasquez, a Peru family practitioner, examines 15-month-old Austin Brown with a stethoscope while father Eric restrains him and mother Stephanie looks on. The Brown family recently endured a bout with flu-like symptoms and health officials now report flu season is in full swing. The La Salle County Health Department encourages vaccines for patients 6 months and older and warns the 2012-13 flu season “has started earlier and hit harder” than in previous years.

NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Got the flu?
It’s hard to distinguish influenza from a common cold, but the Centers for Disease Control notes that flu usually comes on suddenly.
Here are the symptoms to watch:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
The CDC website said most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications, such as pneumonia, as a result of the flu.

Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

Sorry, guys. No bingo this week.
Today was supposed to be bingo day at the Illinois Veterans Home at La Salle. But before anybody could call out “B-73,” administrators phoned volunteer Ray Aubry and told him not to come over with the bingo boards. Everybody at the home is sick.
“Nobody can go over: All visitors are not welcome,” Aubry said. It was the first time in 12 years that he could recall bingo being canceled by quarantine.
If it makes the veterans feel any better, they’re not the only ones battling a bug.
Christmas is a time of giving and high atop this year’s list of most-exchanged (but least requested) presents is seasonal influenza. Health professionals confirm that the Illinois Valley has been bitten by a bad flu bug.
Just ask Stephanie and Eric Brown of Mendota. Their 15-month-old son Austin came down with it recently and, being a generous soul, promptly gave it to his mom and dad.
“And his uncle, and the babysitter…” Stephanie Brown said.
Austin’s physician, Dr. Michelle Vasquez, said her waiting room is filling lately with people complaining of flu-like symptoms such as fevers, chills and coughing.
“Not everyone we’re seeing has the flu, obviously,” Vasquez said. “We’re seeing a lot of other stuff that’s not respiratory flu but people are calling the flu, like the vomiting and bugs and gastrointestinal bugs. A lot of times people have colds or sinus issues and everybody calls it the flu.”
Indeed, distinguishing the flu from a common cold isn’t easy, though the flu typically lasts longer.
“In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense,” the Centers for Disease Control said on its website. “Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.”
Local health professionals agreed that flu is on the march, with the La Salle County Health Department reporting that the 2012-13 flu season “has started earlier and hit harder” than in previous years.
The department further noted the seasonal flu vaccine proved to be “a good match” for the strain that emerged and encouraged all eligible patients (six months of age and up) to receive it.
Pharmacists have reported renewed interest in the flu vaccine, as well as surging demand for anti-viral medication to combat stubborn cases.
“It kicked up here about Sunday,” said Jim Rietgraf, director of pharmacy at Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru. And while the up-tick was abrupt and noticeable, Rietgraf averred, “It’s just another flu season.”
However familiar, it’s easy to forget how serious the flu can be. Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says almost 150 people have been admitted to intensive care units with the flu this season and five have died, The Associated Press reported.
AP further reported that eight Chicago-area hospitals were turning away ambulances Monday night as they dealt with a flood of patients with flu-like symptoms and U.S. health officials say this season’s strain has been linked to more hospital admissions and deaths.
Aside from the vaccine, people can protect themselves and others by covering their coughs and sneezes and by frequently cleaning their hands with soap and water or sanitizer.
Meanwhile, custodians at public buildings are trying to keep their facilities germ-free. At the Illinois Valley YMCA, for instance, the staff has increased its already-rigid cleaning protocols in the fall.
The Y’s cleaning staff uses three disinfectant sprays, cleans the lockers and restrooms five times a day and regularly wipes down the fitness equipment. Mindful of the flu, however, the staff also increased its use of disinfectant of common surfaces (light switches, door handles, et al) from three to five times a week.
“The flu has been making its rounds through the employees here, as well,” said Jeannette Collier, janitorial manager at the YMCA, “but we’re doing our best to stay on top of it.”
Clergy, too, have begun to alter rituals that might otherwise lend to the spreading of germs.
At a morning Mass in La Salle, the Rev. Paul Carlson was about to lead a Novena to St. Anthony of Padua, which typically culminates with Catholics kissing a glass-encased relic of the Italian saint.
Mindful of cold and flu season, Carlson assured his wary flock it was OK to simply touch the enclosure.
“Don’t feel like you have to kiss the glass,” Carlson said.
Schools have been somewhat less affected by the outbreak, if only because most districts were on Christmas break when the flu began catching.
Peru Elementary superintendent Mark Cross reported Monday that while a few flu-stricken teachers called out sick, student attendance stood at 97 percent. Of course, Peru students had just returned from two weeks off; anybody sickened would have been convalescing at home with their Christmas presents.
“We were getting hit pretty hard before the holidays,” Cross recalled. “We definitely, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, had several stretches where we were down.”

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: METALWORKER

Thank you, I think,
Most of my family live an average lifespan for the time.
Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's 50 was old, and 70 was a rare exception.
I do not know when you were born as you do not know when I was born or when any member of my family was born.
I can take the birth year and the death year and what they died of and transpose that to todays times with medical advances and say with some certianty that they would have lived another 15 to 25 years.
They lived as long as most of their comtemporaries did and longer than some not as long as a few. And that is the way it was.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Anonymous46422

I agree with mother earth. I'd like to see the facts. I don't trust vaccines, nor do I trust the companies that produce them. Metalworker ~ sorry to hear about your family's history of early demise.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: METALWORKER

Mother Earth, If you do ot want a Flu shot that is your choice.
It is not your job to post half truths and outright lies in order to promote a haserdous life style.
To scare smeone into not getting a vaccine is a criminal act of the worst kind.
If you ar a med doctor or have a doctors derg. in biological science, please direct your coments to things you are expert on.
You discourage the use of anything but natural chem. and yet refuse to admit that all elements are natural, oly God can make an element. Man it his haphassard efforts has taken those elements and reproduced compounds that exist in nature, mimiced them so to speak.
Organic food is a misnomer. Human waste is treated, dried packeged and sold as organic fertilizer. It can be mixed with animal waste and labled Composted munare, however, nothing is done to remove heavy metals, anti biotics. and other meds taken by humans and given to animals.
Truley, foods labled and sold as organic, for the most part are not worth the extra cost.
Soaps used as safe, chemical free pesticides are a joke and could piosen the people who eat the food without washing it first.
The only safe food is food raised by you if you let nature grow it and do not add anything to the soil or spray the fruit with any thing.
Just remember one thing M.E. a hundred years back and more people lived the way you tout now.
Then they pro created in their early teens and were very old in their twentys and were dead before most reached 50/.
I guess, going back to living that way would surly extend S.S. for those who used modern medicine and made it past sixty and would reduce the cost of medicare as few would need it.
So what you say about Rest, exercise and a good attitude is sage advice like I got from my grand mama. She was old at fifty and dead before 60.
So, I ask you,please be careful in perhaps sending some one to a possible early and painful death or worse.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: MotherEarthSpeaks

Also, please publish the statistics of those who experience the "flu" who have had the vaccine in any form.
It would be interesting to follow the effectiveness of process in reality.
Thank you.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: MotherEarthSpeaks

Many of us who retain our full health have practices that allow our bodies to clear without the normal symptoms of a "cold" or "flu."

Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water per day, eat organic food, get at least 8-10 hours of sleep (does not need to be contiguous), and live in a joyful stressless state with copious amounts of gratitude. Connecting with Nature and deep breathing clean air is also advised.

We avoid flu vaccines and any other non-natural chemicals in our bodies.

Your body is a wonderful powerful gift, blessed with natural methods of maintaining health.
Any state less than full health is a call to love yourself by nourishing and nurturing yourself more.
There are many who have a natural view of this issue, and wish to be heard.
Thank you.

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