Illinois child dies as flu spreads across U.S.

An Illinois child is one of thirteen kids who have died already this year after contracting the flu, and now nationwide, doctors are seeing a spike in cases.

“We have to take it seriously,” said Dr. Jenny Lu.

Dr. Lu works in the emergency room and as a medical toxicologist for the Cook County Health System at Stroger Hospital. She says she and other doctors are starting to see more patients come in with influenza.

“Here we have diagnosed with the flu swab 30 cases, but that actually doesn’t include the patients that we diagnose clinically without using the swab,” Dr. Lu said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly half the country is experiencing "widespread flu activity,” while here in Illinois we are seeing regional activity.

Still, this flu season is not expected to be as deadly as last year when almost 80,000 people died.

Doctors say it's primarily the H1N1 strain or so-called "swine flu" that's spreading, which can be more dangerous to pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and children.

Already the CDC reports 13 children have died from the flu, including one child in Illinois. It is not known what part of the state that child lived.

Doctors continue to urge people to do all they can to prevent the outbreak.

“We definitely are seeing a younger population being affected by the flu,” said Dr. Lu. “If you are young and healthy, it's still important to go get the flu vaccine."

There are several flu symptoms to look out and may include muscle aches, fatigue, headache, dry cough and a sore throat.

If you do find yourself with a combination of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately and stay home from work and school.

Also, it’s not too late to get the flu shot and doctors say you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.