Flu spreading, especially among young adults

By Audrey Wise

December 30, 2013 Updated Dec 30, 2013 at 8:32 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Doctors across the country are seeing an increase in flu cases.

The virus is considered 'widespread' in ten states, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Illinois is suffering several outbreaks.

Typically the flu takes aim at the young, old and those with weak immune systems. But this year, doctors are seeing an unusual increase in young and middle-aged adults coming down with the flu.

Peoria hospital officials say they have seen a rise in flu cases over the past two weeks.

According to the CDC, the pH1N1 virus is widely spread and is disproportionately affecting 18 to 49 year old's.

OSF Saint Francis Dr. Mike Cruz said, "That's a little concerning because that's a little reminiscent of a virus that, perhaps, our immune systems haven't seen before."

Dr. Cruz said the number of young adults admitted with flu-like symptoms is relatively small, but it's significant.

"Part of the reason those people have those exaggerated responses, which is what they sometimes succumb to, is because their immune system is so primed and ready," said Dr. Cruz. "They recognize it's some that foreign, they have this really intense response."

Two adults in their mid-20s were surprised to hear their age group was at risk. Neither had a flu shot.

"At this point, I'm like, I wonder if it's too late to get the flu shot? I definitely don't want to get the flu, I've gotten it before and it's not fun," said East Peoria resident Michelle Romano.

Joe Costello of Peoria said, "Since this interview, kinda what we're talking about, I might go get one myself, but as of right now I haven't."

Though they didn't get vaccinated, they are taking precautions.

"We try to wash our hands all the time, just cleaning up after food and stuff, Lysol wipes, that kind of stuff," added Romano.

Costello said, "I've just pretty much been washing my hands, doing the preventative things and trying to stay away from it. I'm Catholic, so kind of watching out for the chalice and everything like that too."

Despite the increase in young adults, doctors say the very young or old are still at most risk. And for those 6 months or older a flu shot is still encouraged.

"It's never too late to get the vaccine," said Dr. Cruz.

Dr. Cruz adds, influenza is a respiratory infection, not to be confused with a stomach virus, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. He said they are seeing a normal amount of stomach virus cases for this time of year.

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