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Severe Flu Season on Its Way to Wisconsin

Flu symptoms and a temperature over 100 degrees? Public health officials say stay home to keep from spreading the virus. (Wikipedia Commons)
Flu symptoms and a temperature over 100 degrees? Public health officials say stay home to keep from spreading the virus. (Wikipedia Commons)
January 10, 2018

MADISON, Wis. – In many states, a deadly flu season is already making news headlines.

But in Wisconsin, it hasn't so far, although public health officials are warning the flu season could be just as severe.

Confirmed flu cases are at high levels in northwest Wisconsin, at moderate levels in the Fox Valley and below average in the southern third of the state.

More than 560 Wisconsinites were hospitalized with severe flu symptoms last week.

Tom Haupt, influenza surveillance coordinator with the state Division of Health Services, tracks flu cases, and says the season hasn't yet hit its peak.

"We are approaching our influenza peak activity,” he states. “We're probably at least a couple weeks away, but we've seen significant increases in hospitalizations and outbreaks, especially in long term care, over the past few weeks."

If you have a fever of over 100 degrees and other flu symptoms, health officials say you should stay home so you won't spread the virus.

And they advise waiting a full day after your temperature drops below 100 before returning to work or school.

Haupt says it's difficult each winter to accurately predict what kind of flu season it will be.

"Well, we were hoping for an easy year, but once we realized that the influenza AH3 virus is going to be predominant, we knew it was going to hit the older population hard,” he states. “It's the same virus that was going around last year, and last year we had just under 4,000 hospitalizations."

In Wisconsin, Haupt explains flu season usually peaks late in the winter, but it never really disappears from the state.

"We've had 76 straight weeks with at least one confirmed case of influenza,” he points out. “The last time we did not have a case of influenza was July of 2016.

“The flu season never really ends," he adds. "It just tends to die down a little bit. But that time usually would be in the first part of February to middle of February."

Public health officials also recommend frequent hand washing to avoid picking up the virus, and that people should cover their mouths when they cough.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI