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Respiratory illnesses on the rise in McHenry County

McHenry County is experiencing an “unusual increase” in RSV and influenza cases, a county health official said.

The McHenry County Department of Health is urging residents to take steps geared toward slowing the spread of infectious respiratory diseases as cases of respiratory syncytial virus and seasonal influenza have increased. COVID-19 cases also have begun to increase, but community levels remain low at this time.

“With the weather changing and people heading indoors, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get your flu shot and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine,” Director for Public Health Nursing Susan Karras said in a news release. “Through our infectious disease surveillance, we have identified an unusual increase in RSV and influenza cases than what we typically see at this time, which could indicate we are headed toward a fall and winter with increased levels of respiratory illnesses circulating in our community.”

The symptoms for all three illnesses can be indistinguishable, according to the release. While some people, especially older children, may experience mild symptoms, others are at an increased risk of severe complications.

The best defense against respiratory viruses is to receive the seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines and to stay up to date on COVID-19 boosters, including the updated COVID-19 bivalent booster for those who are eligible, the health department advised.

The flu vaccine is available to anyone 6 months or older and is strongly recommended for people who have a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, according to the release. Those who are at a higher risk include people with chronic diseases, adults age 65 or older, children age 4 or younger, and those who are pregnant.

The COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot can be administered at the same time to all who are eligible. To find a participating location offering both vaccines, go to vaccines.gov.

Additional preventive actions outlined by the county health department include practicing social distancing, staying home when sick, wearing a mask, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow if a tissue is unavailable, and washing hands frequently.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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