State Officials Report That High Number Of Flu Cases Have Already Been Confirmed

8 People Have Already Been Hospitalized Due To Flu, Says DHS Epidemiologist

Wisconsin has relatively low rates of seasonal vaccination. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CC-BY).

Wisconsin health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated for the flu, as state officials report that an unusually large number of cases have already been confirmed.

Tom Haupt, an epidemiologist with the Health Services Department, said there are eight people who have been hospitalized with the flu in different areas of the state.

“Now, it’s not uncommon to have one or two. But to have eight of them did seem to really pique our interest,” said Haupt. “Whether this is just a one-time thing and the incidence will go down … or if this is actually start of influenza season, we don’t know for sure.”

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People can get the flu as early as October, but most of the time flu activity peaks in January or later.

Haupt said all but one of the flu patients is over age 65. Last year the flu hit working age people especially hard. It remains to be seen if that will happen again.

“Right now, we’re kind of getting a little of everything so it’s hard to say what the predominant virus could be. But certainly if it does turn out to be an (H1N1) year like last year, it could and probably would, hit the younger adults harder,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control shows Wisconsin has low rates of vaccination against seasonal flu — about 42 percent between 2010 to 2014.

As flu season gears up, Enterovirus-D68 — a virus that causes severe respiratory illness in some children around the U.S. — appears to be dwindling. Wisconsin health officials do expect the number of confirmed cases to rise now due to a backlog in testing, though Haupt said doctors are sending in fewer suspected cases of enterovirus.