WHITLEY COUNTY — Many local residents are reporting an increase in influenza cases in the past week — especially in children. 

Though flu cases were held at bay for much of the season, which typically runs from November through March, there has been an increase in cases in the last week, said Heather Reid, RN, of the Whitley County Health Department. 

Reid spoke with two local school nurses last week, and indicated that symptoms range from headache to stomachache and congestion. 

Reid indicated that when she spoke with the school nurses, that they were under the 20 percent required to close schools for illness. 

The flu was reported as “widespread” in 48 states last week, and the Centers for Disease Control states that flu forecasters think there’s a 90 percent chance the flu season has peaked. 

The 2017-2018 season was reported as one of the deadliest in the past four decades — with an estimated 80,000 Americans dying from the flu and its complications. 

CDC officials estimate there have been 20,000-30,000 influenza-related deaths so far this year, as well as 300,000 hospitalizations and 25 million flu illnesses. 

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include: Aching muscles, headache, fatigue/weakness, sore throat, fever over 100.4, chills/sweats, dry cough and nasal congestion. 

The CDC says the best prevention for the flu is an annual vaccine. Additionally, avoid close contact with sick people, and limit contact with others while you are sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, and cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash hands often with soap and water, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that might have been contaminated. 

The flu is not treated with antibiotics, but antiviral medications may be effective in shortening the duration and severity of influenza symptoms. Visit www.cdc.gov for more information.