Deadly diseases spreading in central Illinois

By Anna Yee

Deadly diseases spreading in central Illinois

December 4, 2012 Updated Dec 5, 2012 at 10:58 AM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- The sounds of the flu season are already ringing in the air, and health experts are warning to take heed, better yet, take control.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is one of the earliest flu seasons in the past decade.

Experts say suspected flu cases have jumped in five southern states, and two people have already died in North Carolina.

In the Heart of Illinois, officials advise anyone six months and older to get a flu shot, especially children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

"One of the misperceptions is you get the flu from the flu shot, and that is not true," said Sara Sparkman, Community Relations manager for the Tazewell County Health Dept. "Another misconception that people have is when they have the flu, it's the stomach flu with the vomiting and diarrhea. The flu that you get the flu shot for is respiratory flu, so it's coughing, sneezing, body aches, fever."

Those symptoms are similar to another highly contagious disease, pertussis or "whooping cough."

Cases of the bacterial infection are skyrocketing in Peoria County.

"The problem is adults don't get really sick with it," said Dr. Mike Gulley, Senior Vice President for Strategic Effectiveness at OSF HealthCare. "It's generally very mild, cold-like symptoms, a very days of cough, and then it subsides. But, during that time, they're able to transmit it to anybody else who lacks the immunity."

Pertussis can spread to both adults and kids through sneezing and coughing and unlike the common cold, the coughs can turn into fits and continue for weeks.

Whooping cough can be fatal for infants, so pregnant moms are among the adults recommended to get vaccinated.

And experts say if you don't feel good, stay at home.

For more information and tips, contact your physician or your local health department.