Influenza B: Different strain of flu hits Chicago area

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A different strain of the flu is bringing a second round of patients to area hospital emergency rooms. (WLS)

After an unusually heavy flu season over the winter months, a different strain of the flu is bringing a second round of patients to area hospital emergency rooms.

Barbara Clarke was hoping to be at work today, but instead she was admitted at Elmhurst Hospital on Tuesday afternoon with Influenza B.

"I just feel achy and congested," Clarke said.

It may seem like flu season should be over, but it's not for Clarke and lots of other patients. Hospitals have seen an uptick in the number of flu cases over the last couple weeks.

"We have definitely seen more cases here at Elmhurst Hospital," emergency room physician Dr. Tom King said.

But Dr. King also said it's not especially unusual to see more cases in early spring. Type B flu is a different strain than the type A, which hit earlier this winter. And it's not even too late to get a flu shot.

In fact, the head of infectious disease control at Westlake Hospital said it's a good idea.

"If you haven't yet gotten a flu shot, it's a good idea to get one very soon", said Dr. Vishnu Chundi.

But doctors say there is good news: the flu vaccine is more effective in preventing the type B strain than it was with type A earlier in the season. And the season is almost over.

"We should be at the tail end of season," said Dr. King.
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