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Illinois flu cases climb; 27 deaths this season

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013
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Staying home when you're sick can keep the flu from spreading, health officials said. That's meant a little more juggling than normal for The Larko Group, a small agency in Chicago that specializes in providing temporary executive administrative assistants to local companies.

When a client's receptionist called in sick on Friday with the flu, the first person Larko called as a temporary replacement couldn't take the assignment because she'd been called by another agency 20 minutes before — to fill in for somebody who was sick, said Heidi Steinkraus, the company's temporary division coordinator. The person who finally took the assignment said "it was the third call she'd gotten this week to fill in for a receptionist who called in sick," Steinkraus said.

Larko has filled about 10 short-term assignments in the last couple weeks because of illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Illinois among the 24 states hardest hit by the flu in its weekly update Friday. State health officials expect the numbers to rise as more doctors and hospitals report cases from previous weeks.

Earlier in the week, Chicago-area hospitals turned away ambulances as they dealt with a surge of patients with flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and runny nose. Hospitals weren't as overwhelmed Friday.

The state health department encourages people to check with their doctors before heading to an emergency room. In general, only those with severe respiratory illness who have trouble breathing need to visit the ER.

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Associated Press Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson.

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AP Writer Tammy Webber contributed from Chicago.