More Eau Claire County residents hospitalized this year from flu - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

More Eau Claire County residents hospitalized this year due to flu symptoms

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Doctors say they don't know why this season's flu is so bad, but they want you to pay attention; they are sounding the alarm.  The nation's top doctors say no flu season has hit this hard, this fast, in a decade.

Last weekend, a Texas teen died of complications of the flu.  He had been spending the holidays with his grandparents in Amery. WQOW News 18 spoke with local health experts about what we need to know.

"We are seeing it to be a bad flu season this year, different than last year," says Eau Claire County-City Health Department Director, Lieske Giese.

There weren't any Eau Claire County residents hospitalized over the entire flu season a year ago. This season, it's a different story. From October through mid-December, this year, at least 20 Eau Claire County residents have been hospitalized.   

"All hospitals are required to report their hospitalizations related to influenza. It takes a little time for those to get into the system. So, we're quite certain that there are many more, just anecdotally talking to those institutions," says Giese.  

Mayo Clinic Health System Emergency Physician, Dr. Paul Horvath, says, "The reason to come into the ER for flu treatment is really if you are having particularly severe symptoms. Symptoms of flu are high fever, body aches, headaches, bad dry hacking cough. There's a good chunk of people that will get a complication, and will get pneumonia or, more severe infection, that obviously carries risk, including death, in some of those really sick people."

The effects of the flu can go beyond even your health. Dr. Horvath says, "It obviously has a big economic impact, people can't work. They're out of work, they're not making money, they can't pay their bills."

But, it's not too late to do something about this season's full force flu.  The health department encourages people of all ages to get vaccinated.

"Flu season usually lasts until spring, sometimes longer, so it really is not too late. Once you get vaccinated you are protected, usually within two weeks," says Giese. "Winters are long in Wisconsin and anything you can do to stay healthy is critically important."

Doctors say things like washing your hands, staying home when you're sick, and getting vaccinated are all keys to prevention. 

Some infectious disease specialists think the spike in flu cases could be blamed on the drier air.  That allows the virus to spread farther.

For more information on where you can get a flu shot, call 715-839-60-61.

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