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Chicago: 1st Influenza Influenza Death, High Case Number at Arlington Heights College



A child died of the flu in Chicago, marking the first pediatric death linked to the flu virus in Cook County and the third in the state until now this season.

Details about Chicago's death, included in a report released last week by the City's Department of Public Health, were not immediately available. Death follows the death of one A 3-year-old Aurora girl in December and a child who lived outside of the Chicago area in January, according to public health authorities and local flu surveillance reports, who do not follow the deaths of children. ; adults.

The latest flu screening conducted by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which continues during the week ending Feb. 16, shows a slight rise in influenza illness – described as fever over 100 degrees with a cough or sore throat – in all the state.

And three schools have reported outbreaks of influenza in the northern suburbs in recent weeks, according to the Cook County Health Department.

At South Middle School in Arlington Heights, 185 students were away on Wednesday, representing about 20 percent of the student body, said district spokesman Adam Harris. School authorities began to notice an increase in absences Monday, when about 10 percent of students were sick, he said. That rose Tuesday when 158 students, or 15%, were absent, and another 23 were sent home with flu-like symptoms throughout the day, Harris said.

Although it is not known if all absences are due to the flu, so far, 30 cases have been confirmed to school authorities since February 20, said Harris.

In an email sent to parents on Tuesday, administrators suggested keeping children at home if they are sick and recommended washing their hands and other public health tips. Harris said the cleaning staff cleans heavily affected areas in the school.

According to public health data, the recent increase in the number of cases this season is comparable to that of the 2016-17 season and much lower than last year. The 2017-18 influenza season, described as severe by the CDC, has rendered 49 million people sick and has killed nearly 80,000 people in the country, including nine children in Illinois.

A CDC report released earlier this month also shows a lighter flu this year and, in part, attributes a more effective vaccine. This year's report was 47% effective and 61% effective for children 6 months to 17 years old, the report says. This compares to a vaccine efficacy of 40% in all age groups for the previous two seasons.

Doctors and public health officials warned, however, that a different strain of influenza – influenza B – would tend to appear later in the season and that anyone who has not yet been vaccinated should do it.

kthayer@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @knthayer

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