Illinois no longer experiencing widespread flu

Influenza levels in Illinois are no longer widespread, which may signal that the worst is over for the earlier-than-expected flu season, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Illinois experienced a high level of influenza activity for the last six weeks, but the CDC reported on February 22 that numbers decreased gradually over the last month. Illinois is now officially out of the widespread category, according to Medill Reports.

The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like-illness in Illinois is 2.6 percent, a significant drop from 3.3 percent the week before. The state's influenza activity is now being reported and monitored on a regional scale, instead of using a widespread scale.

Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that there were 98 flu-related deaths in Illinois this year, with 651 total hospitalizations.

Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the CDC, said that 22 states continue to report widespread influenza activity. The previous week, 31 states reported widespread influenza activity, while 38 states reported that level of activity the week before.

"Overall it's been a moderate-to-severe season," Allen said, according to Medill Reports. "Currently the influenza activity still persists but it's going down at a steady pace."

The CDC said that between 3,000 and 50,000 people die annually in the U.S. each year from influenza-related-illnesses, depending on the severity of the season, according to Medill Reports.