Wisconsin is headed into the peak of what is shaping up to be a challenging flu season. Tom Haupt, influenza surveillance coordinator with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said reported hospitalizations due to influenza have increased steadily the past two weeks. There were 252 confirmed hospitalizations as of Friday, December 12.
“I can tell you, looking at the statistics, there’s going to be a big increase this week as well,” Haupt said. “About 62% percent of the hospitalizations have been among the elderly population.”
Most of the cases have been influenza H-3, and this year’s vaccine has not been as effective against that strain. Still, Haupt said it’s still a good idea to get the shot. “I always use the analogy that, if you go out in the middle of winter and it’s ice-cold, even a light jacket will give you some protection, versus having no jacket at all,” he said.
“Bottom line is I think this is going to be a bad influenza year,” said Dr. Jon Tempte at the UW Department of Family Medicine. “The predominant virus in circulation tends to be one that causes much more in the way of hospitalization, more complications of underlying medical conditions, and unfortunately causes more deaths than some of the other strains do.”
Haupt with DHS said that – based on observations – he expects the peak in flu cases to arrive with the New Year, with high activity continuing for another month or so.