February 8, 2016

Flu season most severe in five years

Wisconsin is on track to have its worst flu season in five years, with state health officials reporting 2,837 confirmed influenza cases in the state since October. There have also been 1,287 flu-associated hospitalizations.

Claire Smith with state Department of Health Services says the season is not expected to peak for at least a few weeks still, although cases have already topped total numbers for all of last year. For the 2011-2012 season, only about 2,000 influenza cases were confirmed statewide and 389 people were hospitalized.

Smith says about 75-percent of the confirmed cases this season are from a strain that’s similar to the current flu vaccine, so she says getting a flu shot will provide some protection. While the vaccine will not completely keep someone from catching the virus, getting a shot or nasal mist can prevent complications and limit the severity of any illness.

Smith says there are ample supplies of vaccine still available, so the public should contact local health providers to see about getting their flu shot. In addition, she says taking steps, such as frequently washing your hands and coughing into a sleeve, can help to improve your chances of getting through the season without getting sick.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)

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