MADISON (WKOW) — Health officials have confirmed the state’s second pediatric flu death in Wisconsin this year.
The child was from the southern part of the state, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, bringing the total of flu deaths in the state to 31.
On Thursday alone, there were 100 new hospitalizations statewide by noon.
Hospitals and clinics are seeing a big uptick in cases of the flu right now in the Madison area. The person in charge of monitoring the flu statewide says Wisconsin will likely see even sharper increases in the coming weeks.
“We’re not at peak activity yet,” said DHS Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Tom Haupt. “We probably won’t be at peak activity for several weeks, followed by many more weeks of high activity.”
As of Monday, there have been 609 adults treated for the flu at UW Health and 67 hospitalized this flu season. That’s up from 130 at the same time last year.
For kids, it’s 595 cases and 20 hospitalized, up from 38 cases in the previous flu season.
SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital has admitted 51 patients, as of Tuesday. Most of those came in since the beginning of the year and 12 of them in the past week.
Public health officials say this season is definitely different than previous years, with high numbers early in fall and now.
This flu season may be overshadowed this year because of the concerns over coronavirus, with one case diagnosed in Madison. But health officials say the average person should be more vigilant about protecting themselves from the flu.
As an example, Haupt said that out of about 350 people tested nationwide for coronavirus, less than five percent came back positive.
“In comparison, this past week, those people who had symptoms of Influenza-like illness, over 33% – or one in three – tested positive for the flu,” Haupt said, “This indicates a significant rise over previous weeks.”
Haupt said the best defense against the flu is still getting a seasonal vaccination and staying home when sick.
“In Wisconsin, we have had over 40 percent of the residents of Wisconsin being vaccinated, which is a record, but we have to look at it from the opposite way too,” Haupt said, “If 40% are vaccinated, 60% are not vaccinated.”
As for why the flu is so bad this season, Haupt said health officials are monitoring a pair of reports. The first, which the CDC should release within the next couple weeks, details the effectiveness of this year’s flu shot.
According to the CDC, recent studies indicate the flu shot reduces the risk of illness by 40%-60%. Haupt said the other test will examine how this season’s strain compares to past years’ versions. That report will come out toward the end of flu season.
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