Flu activity drops in Chicago

The influenza outbreak in Chicago is reportedly slowing down and unlikely to gain strength before the end of the flu season.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair told the Chicago City Council's Health and Environmental Protection Committee that the influenza virus, which hit earlier than expected, was a more severe strain, according to Associated Press.

Choucair said that there were seven flu-related illnesses reported in area emergency rooms the last week of January. There were twice as many the week before. The Chicago Department of Public Health's official statistic reported that the city has had 159 confirmed intensive care unit influenza cases so far this season compared with 63 for the entirety of last season.

The drop matches a general trend in the United States, but experts warn that the season has yet to finish. As of February 2, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a one percent drop in the number of people seeing the doctor with flu-like symptoms, Associated Press reports.

Nineteen states are now reporting high levels of flu activity in comparison with 24 from the week before. Thirty-eight states report widespread flu activity this week, compared to 42 states the week before.

The CDC said the best way to protect oneself from the flu is with a flu shot.