Influenza: Finding the info you need

KHQA received information from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) that flu activity has increased to a "regional level" in Illinois.

This means that laboratories in many regions have confirmed the influenza virus in reported cases.

Although each influenza season is unpredictable, we typically see the peak in January and February, said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. It is not too late to get a flu shot. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, and those around you, from getting influenza and potentially becoming sick for a week or longer.

We wanted to take a look at how you can get information on the flu from a world, regional and local vantage point.

You've heard all about the symptoms which may include may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. And you've heard the saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" so you got your flu shot and continue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough and wash your hands.

But had you heard that is actually able to track flu trends around the world based on search terms used in their search engine?

That's right. Google Flu Trends uses their data to estimate current flu activity around the world.

Think about it. Have you ever felt really sick and gone online to try and pinpoint your symptoms? Well each week, people from all over the world search for the same kind of information.

Google does recognize that not everyone is really sick when they type in flu-related keywords, but there are still reliable patterns to be seen. You can see their results in a reputable journal here .

Organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also monitor the influenza activity estimates reported by states and U.S. territories. See the newest CDC map below:

You can also find local stories on the flu and other health issues right here at home in the Tri-States on KHQA TMs Health Page here.

The internet is a powerful resource for your health needs, so be sure to take a look at the big picture.