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Out of Season and Severe Cold & Flu Cases are on the Rise in Wisconsin


You may have found yourself or someone you know reaching for the box of tissues or cold medicine lately.

You’re not alone.

Wisconsin is one of many states reporting a rise cold and flu cases in the last couple of weeks.

While not nearly as deadly as COVID-19, the rise is giving medical professional concerns for two major reasons.

One, we don’t usually see these types of seasonal respiratory illnesses in June. They usually peak in the winter months.

Two, there seem to be more severe cases than what is typically seen with these types of viruses, according to DHS Respiratory Disease Epidemiologist Tom Haupt.

“We’re also seeing, especially with the parainfluenza viruses, some extremely ill children. Very high fevers, children who are actually being admitted to the intensive care unit. That is not a usual characteristic of any of these viruses. It can happen, but we’re seeing more of it right now,” said Haupt.

Haupt said children and the elderly are most vulnerable to these types of viruses.

The big question for him and other medical professionals is why is this happening now?

Haupt said he doesn’t know for sure, but one theory is that the measures taken to prevent COVID, like mask wearing and social distancing, prevented the spread of these viruses.

Now that those measure have eased, these viruses are back.

Haupt also said it’s possible our immune systems are weaker for not as having been exposed to viruses over the last year and a half.

“By now we should be through with most of these viruses, but it’s been well over a year since we’ve had them before. I can’t say 100%, but that’s one of our theories that we’ve been kicking around,” Haupt said.

DHS is urging people stay home when sick to prevent spreading the illness.

Other states have experienced outbreaks of the viruses at places like long-term care facilities and day cares.

Medical providers are encouraged to keep testing for COVID-19 and then for other respiratory viruses if that test comes back negative.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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