The 2014-2015 Influenza season already has Illinois experiencing widespread activity regarding influenza and influenza-like-illness (ILI). Influenza A virus strains will dominate this year's influenza season. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), there is a "drifted" strain of influenza A that is causing illness. This strain is different than the strain included in the seasonal influenza vaccine. While the vaccine may only offer some cross protection against this "drifted" strain of influenza A, the vaccine will give protection against other influenza A and B strains.
Due to this "drifted" strain of influenza A, it is even more important to recognize signs and symptoms of influenza and seek medical evaluation promptly so that antiviral medication, if appropriate, can be initiated.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can cause mild to severe illness. Influenza usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms can include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
Individuals who experience symptoms of influenza should seek medical attention.
Provider agencies should coordinate with local health departments to ensure that agency staff and persons served have the opportunity to receive an influenza vaccination. Individuals with developmental disabilities are at a higher risk for complications from influenza due to many factors. Ensuring that this group of individuals and the staff that work with them have been vaccinated is vital to maintaining the health of everyone.
Preventing the Spread of Influenza
- Cover-cover-cover your cough or sneeze, utilize appropriate personal protective devices (mask, gown, etc.) for staff who are caring for an individual who has influenza.
- Clean and wash hands frequently with soap and water, ensure that environmental cleaning policies are adequate to decontaminate frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Contain- ensure that staff are aware of current infection control practices within the facility. The CDC recommends individuals sick with influenza like illness stay home until there has been no fever for 24 hours so they do not expose others to the virus.
This advisory is not intended as a sole area for information and advice. It is only to serve as information for a basic understanding of the subject included. Please consult www.idph.state.il.us/flu or www.cdc.gov/flu for further information