DHS: 32 adults, including 3 children have died of the flu in Wisconsin

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:24 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Thirty-two people including three children have died in Wisconsin this flu season.

Tom Haupt, Research Scientist/Epidemiologist, Division of Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services said in a typical flu season the state averages three pediatric child deaths. He said in 2016, six children died. Haupt spoke with reporters Thursday morning.

This data shows the number of adult and pediatric influenza deaths in Wisconsin going back to...
This data shows the number of adult and pediatric influenza deaths in Wisconsin going back to the 2017-2018 flu season.(WSAW)

“The fact that these were so close together [two of the three deaths], we just felt that we needed to respond and to hopefully get the message out through the media, about the situation that it’s still around,” Haupt said.

He said the flu typically peaks the week between Christmas and New Year’s. But the positivity rate is now increasing again.

Nationally, 10 children have died from the flu. The current flu season began Oct. 1, 2021.

Flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Haupt said parents need to be cautious about monitoring their children’s fevers.

“If it’s a prolonged fever, or things like the Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, are not actually helping at all, that’s time to really get some medical care. Also, if it becomes to the point where they are having trouble breathing or wheezing,” Haupt said.

Parents with children already at risk of complications need to be on alert. Complications can include asthma or medications that may lower the immune system.

“At that point, if you do have minor symptoms, you want to get that child to the doctor, for an assessment. That child can be put on antivirals, which will shorten the course of influenza and help,” Haupt said.

He said within 48 hours of symptom anti-virals can be effective.

Haupt said that stay-at-home orders and masking essentially eliminated the 2020-2021 influenza season, but it has always been lurking.

“Influenza can change In a heartbeat. You can get all these variants much like you can with COVID-19. You can get a little bit of a drift in the genetic makeup. It’s just a very, very difficult disease to understand,” Haupt said.

Haupt urged vaccination despite reports the vaccine is not as effective this year. He said some protection is always better than no protection.

The CDC recommends anyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year - especially people considered high risk for complications from illness, including young children, adults 65 years of age or older, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions.

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