The flu season has been brutal this winter. And while state officials report that the flu activity this season has peaked, Wisconsin residents aren’t out of the woods yet.
A high level of activity is expected to remain for several more weeks this flu season, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ respiratory virus surveillance report.
According to the report:
“Influenza activity has peaked, although high activity can be expected for several more weeks. A record number of hospitalizations, admissions to ICU and mechanical ventilation cases have occurred. Influenza B and A/H1N1 are becoming more common.”
Of the almost 15,000 people that tested positive for the flu, almost 13,000 people or 87 percent tested positive for Influenza A and almost 2,000 had Influenza B. Since September, the number of hospitalizations has increased to 5,400.
The H3N2 virus has been an area of concern over the years for health professionals because those seasons typically resulted in higher numbers of patients requiring hospitalization. But the subtype of flu being reported is unknown for most of those who tested positive for the flu.
Health professionals recommend getting the flu vaccine. However, less than half of Americans have been vaccinated, according to the CDC. The flu vaccination rate among young adults in Wisconsin is the lowest in the nation, according to a story by the Journal Sentinel.
Flu vaccine recommended
Health professionals recommend getting a flu vaccine. They also advocate practicing good health habits, including washing your hands, eating right, getting enough sleep and quitting smoking.
They also strongly encourage the following groups to receive the flu vaccination:
- People 65 years old and older.
- People with chronic health issues, like heart disease and diabetes.
- Pregnant women. The flu shot protects the mom-to-be and provides protection for her baby for several months after birth.
- People who are around other people at work or school.
This year, health officials warn that the vaccine this year is only about 10 percent effective, according to a story by CBS News. Regardless, getting the vaccine will help “ease the severity and duration of symptoms,” according to a story by the Washington Post.
“Children are considered highly vulnerable to the disease. Studies show that for children, a shot can significantly reduce the risk of dying. (The CDC reported that 101 children died of flu-related illness in the 2016-17 season.),” the Washington Post reported.
In Wisconsin, however, no influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported.