Spike in flu cases in Chicago-area schools; 1 child dead

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CHICAGO — A spike in flu cases has been reported at schools across the Chicago area. In the city, one child has died.

Officials said the child is the first pediatric flu death in Cook County and the third in the state this season.

Evanston pediatrician Dr. Melanie Thomas said she’s seen an uptick in flu cases over the past week. On Thursday alone, the doctor saw seven children with confirmed flu cases.

“We are definitely seeing a trend up,” Thomas said. “It started about 10 days ago.”

At South Middle School in Arlington Heights, 192 of 884 students called off school Wednesday with flu-like symptoms. That’s up from 183 Tuesday. Of those, 30 cases of the flu have been confirmed. School officials are asking parents to keep children with flu-like symptoms home.

Doctors said symptoms can include coughing, vomiting and a fever of 100 degrees or more.

Three schools in northern suburbs have also reported flu clusters.

The local outbreaks are representative of statewide trends, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In a statement, Chicago health officials said: “To date, there has been one pediatric death reported in Chicago. Though influenza activity is significantly lower than at this time last year, complications from influenza continue to occur in individuals at highest risk. CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older. It is not too late to get the flu shot.”

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