Number of flu cases continues to rise

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Western Wisconsin is not escaping what has become a national epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this season's version of the flu is not drastically different from past years, but health officials say it is having a different impact on people.

"The thing with this season that makes it different compared to other seasons is that it's hitting faster. Which means we're seeing more hospitalized cases of influenza earlier in the season than we would typically see," said Gundersen Health System Infection Preventionist Megan Meller.

According to the CDC, Wisconsin is one of ten states plus Puerto Rico that are experiencing moderate flu activity.

27 states are experiencing what the CDC calls high activity.

Doctors say the best thing you can do to prevent yourself from catching the flu is to get a flu shot.

The Wisconsin Department of Health says that the worst of the outbreaks are occurring on the eastern side of the state, but activity continues to rise statewide.

This has been the most flu activity since 2014-15 and health officials have no timetable of when it could slow down.

"It's anyone's guess how long this peak will continue. Some experts are saying they're seeing some stabilization in the numbers and so hopefully we'll start seeing a decline in the number of cases. But it's a wait and see kind of environment because we can't control the flu, the flu controls itself," said Meller.

Both Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare say they have experienced a number of cases involving the flu so far this season.

In Eau Claire, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital has had 21 confirmed hospitalizations and HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls has seen 5.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire has seen 49 flu cases in Eau Claire County and 12 hospitalizations so far in January alone.

Doctors recommend eating healthy, exercising and getting plenty of sleep to help build a strong immune system to help fight off the flu.

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