Medical experts advise those with symptoms to stay home and limit spread as flu peak expected after holidays

As the holiday season approaches, medical experts are warning of a potential surge in flu cases following Christmas and New Year’s Day. Despite a decrease in hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) compared to last year, the upcoming travel and gatherings may result in an increase in flu cases.

Robert Citronberg, Executive Medical Director of Infectious Disease and Prevention at Advocate Health Care, anticipates a significant surge in flu cases and related hospitalizations in the next two weeks. He pointed out that flu activity is low to moderate in Illinois and Wisconsin but high to very high in the southern U.S., indicating that a potential increase in flu activity may be on the horizon.

Since mid-November, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for respiratory illnesses have been slightly decreasing statewide, while flu visits have been steadily rising. Last week alone, 3.2% of emergency room visits and 1.6% of hospital admissions were for flu patients, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s respiratory illness dashboard.

In addition to flu, cases of COVID-19 are still prevalent, although hospitalization rates are lower than historic levels. The changing nature of the virus, coupled with the high vaccination rates, has contributed to a decrease in severe illnesses and hospital admissions.

As holiday travel and gatherings increase the risk of disease spreading, medical experts advise precautionary measures such as wearing high-quality masks, staying home if feeling unwell, and seeking COVID-19 testing if experiencing symptoms.

Overall, as the nation navigates through another holiday season amid a pandemic, it remains crucial for individuals to prioritize their health and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

Historically, the winter season has always been associated with increased flu activity, and the concurrent presence of COVID-19 has added another layer of concern for public health officials. Nonetheless, the availability of vaccines and heightened awareness of preventive measures have contributed to better management and understanding of these respiratory illnesses.

In conclusion, experts emphasize the importance of maintaining vigilance and taking proactive measures to protect oneself and others during the holiday season. By doing so, individuals can help mitigate the spread of respiratory viruses and ensure a safe and healthy start to the new year.

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