Flu season is bad this year, so if you're sick stay home

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Flu season is widespread and especially bad in Illinois this year, according to the state health department, but trying to fight through it isn't always the best idea.

"It really feels like every other patient has the flu," said Dr. Jenny Lu, Cook County Hospital.

Cook County Hospital said the number of patients they've treated with flu-like symptoms jumped from 300 last week to around 500 this week.

"People are coming in with fevers, shortness of breath, body aches, all the typical symptoms of flu," Lu said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 22 and 31 million people have become infected with the flu so far this season. Illinois in particular has been experiencing a high level of flu activity. But the illness doesn't just make sick people miserable.

"We estimate the flu season is going to cost employers about $13.1 billion in lost productivity," said Andy Challenger of Challenger, Grey & Christmas.

The outplacement experts at Challenger, Grey & Christmas said many of those losses are the result of sick employees who feel they must go into work no matter what. It is up to the employer, they said, to change that perspective.

"They're not going to lose any credibility in the workplace if they take the time off. In fact, they're doing their teammates a favor by staying home and maybe telecommuting and doing their work from the computer," Challenger said.

The best way to prevent the spread of the flu is to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough, wash your hands, and stop the spread of the virus by staying home when you are sick.
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