Illinois officials are preparing for another flu season according to the Chicago Tribune:
It's not certain flu season will strike as it did last year, but health officials are girding for another stretch of illness after winter's viral outbreaks socked Illinois and the Chicago area.
Scientists and public health officials say they can't forecast how bad this season might be. Influenza epidemics do happen, but their timing, impact or subtypes can be erratic. The last flu season — a rather severe one, experts say — was unusual also because it peaked earlier than normal.
Nationally, World Health Organization data show the number of detected influenza A and B viruses at the peak of the 2012-13 season reached some of its highest levels since a 2009 pandemic.
At least 183 flu-related hospitalizations in city intensive care units were logged from the end of September 2012 through May, according to a spring flu report from the Chicago Department of Public Health. That was nearly three times the amount seen during the same period in the prior season.
Statewide, provisional statistics from last September through this September log 817 flu-related ICU hospitalizations and 135 reported deaths.
"Flu is serious," said Dr. Julie Morita, director of the city health department's immunization program. "It's not a cold. It's not a minor illness. People can get seriously ill and die."