ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The national flu outbreak is taking its toll on the Stateline. More than 2,000 people have reported the virus in Winnebago County and that number only includes those who have gone to the doctor.
Doctors are calling this year's flu challenging and unpredictable. They say we need to wash our hands for more than 20 seconds every time we do so to stop the spread of the virus.
It's a sound that's echoing in Rockford hospitals. More than 2,000 people in Winnebago County have gone to the doctor with the flu this season. 1,600 of those have been in the last three weeks.
You are hot, you're cold you have no appetite what so ever,” said Amy Bradley, who is currently battling the flu.
Amy Bradley is one of the last in her family to catch the virus. We interviewed the Rockford mom on Skype to prevent passing any germs.
When we asked her how she felt, she said ”really tired, dizzy and had a headache”. These are all symptoms doctors want us to look out for. Right now nearly 10 percent of emergency room visits in the Stateline are flu related compared to 3 percent last year. SwedishAmerican Hospital says 20 percent of their recent ER visits are patients dealing with the virus
“That prompted us to open a separate flu clinic just last week to help manage the population. On the inpatient side, our intensive care units have been quite full,” said Dr. Kathleen Kelly with SwedishAmerican.
Experts say just under 40% of the targeted group that needs a flu shot haven't gotten one yet. We're told the vaccine is 60 percent effective.
"We are at a very high level so there is a lot of fuel in the community right now but we hope over the next several weeks it will begin to decline,” said Mike Bacon with the Winnebago County Health Department.
Doctors say we have likely seen the worst of the virus but it doesn’t mean it's over yet. It's spreading with droplets so when we cough or sneeze it can actually reach up to six feet and last for about 24 hours.
If we have the flu, we’re asked to stay home. Doctors say we should only have one person take care of us, to limit the spread. We’re also told to avoid touching our mouths, eyes, and nose and as earlier mentioned to wash our hands often. Employees at all three Rockford hospitals have either been vaccinated or will wear a mask.
Researchers have found the flu virus can lurk for days, even where you might not expect it. ATM’s and gas pumps top the list of germiest places. Other bad spots include the office break-room, especially refrigerator handles and microwaves. All the more reason to stay home if you start feeling sick.