Illinois flu outbreak is one of worst in the U.S.

The current outbreak of influenza in the state of Illinois is one of the worst in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doctors at the Downers Grove-based Good Samaritan Hospital said that flu season is peaking early, matching previous predictions by health officials of a bad season. Illinois is one of 16 states experiencing widespread flu activity after starting to see sporadic activity around Thanksgiving, FOX Chicago reports.

State health officials said that more than five percent of outpatient hospital visits are flu-related with the percentage growing from week to week.

The state experienced three flu deaths in the week before Christmas.

Doctors are comparing the number of seriously ill patients to the swine flu epidemic of 2009.

Doctors recommend that the members of the public not go to work if they begin to feel flu symptoms like chills, fever and not feeling well all over. The same goes for students going to school if they are feeling unwell. Leaving home while sick contributes to the widespread nature of the flu.

The CDC warned that people with the flu can be contagious before developing symptoms and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. The contagious period may be even longer in children after they develop symptoms, FOX Chicago reports.