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Flu cases continue to rise in Wisconsin ahead of the holidays

Flu activity levels are high in Wisconsin in December 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
Flu activity levels are high in Wisconsin in December 2022.

The flu is on the rise in Wisconsin, with more than 6,300 cases confirmed in the state in the past week, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

That’s a lot for this time of year, says Tom Haupt, the DHS Influenza Surveillance Coordinator.

“We are actually at now what we would normally see in mid-January or early February,” he says. “But we’re seeing it in October and November. This is significantly earlier than we’ve seen in many, many years.”

Haupt says the early rise in flu cases this season is on par with one of the worst flu seasons in the past 40 years.

And there’s no indication it will let up any time soon.

There is reason for hope though. Haupt says this year’s flu vaccine is highly effective because the flu virus that’s circulating is very similar to the genetic makeup of the vaccine.

However, few people have gotten the flu vaccine.

“Only 31 percent of the state’s population who is eligible to be vaccinated has received it,” says Dr. Jasmine Zapata, the DHS Bureau of Community Health Promotion’s Chief Medical Officer. “That is not enough.”

Zapata says even fewer young people and people of color have been vaccinated.

She recommends getting the flu and COVID vaccines ahead of the holidays, when those respiratory diseases are expected to spread quickly.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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