Eau Claire (WQOW) - It's the season of cold and flu, and in Eau Claire, flu numbers are up again.
The Eau Claire City County Health Department said Friday there have been 24 influenza hospitalizations so far this season. That's up from 20 cases the previous week.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control said the U.S. is officially in a flu epidemic.
Health experts said the best way to keep the virus away is to wash your hands often and carefully. They also say it is not too late to get your flu shot. Also, if you are feeling sick, don't assume it's too late to fight the bug with anti-viral drugs, like Tamiflu.
The CDC said we are now probably at the peak of flu season, but it could still last another 13 weeks.
January 4, 2018
Eau Claire (WQOW) - Coughing, sneezing and body aches are normal symptoms that come with influenza but it's not normal to see flu cases increase so much within a week, according to the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.
The Chippewa Valley has seen an increase in flu cases since last Thursday. There are two bugs spreading around Eau Claire, and this year according to the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, both influenza and norovirus are peaking about a month early.
Last week, there were only five reported hospitalizations due to influenza, now that number has bumped up to 20 reported cases.
"We have 16 that we've actually received reports on and then we have 4 that we know are hospitalized at the current time," said health department RN, Jackie Krumenauer. "So, from last week at this time, we are up to 20 hospitalizations for the season as of this week. So, that's a pretty big increase within the last week."
Krumenauer said the differences between the two flus is one has respiratory symptoms while the other deals with stomach ache symptoms.
"Influenza is spread through droplet," Krumenauer said. "So, when a person coughs or sneezes, and then the other person inhales that, that's how it spreads," Krumenauer said.
Norovirus, is also known as the stomach flu.
"Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, so totally different symptoms than the respiratory we're seeing with that. The norovirus is spread through the vomit or stool," Krumenauer said.
Although she can't determine exactly why sicknesses are here so early this year, Krumenauer thinks old man winter might be the culprit.
"It could be, you know we've had the cold, people have been indoors and have been more confined," she said.
She said it's still early in the flu season, but it's not too early to protect yourself from influenza. She recommends if you haven't received your flu shot, you should do it as soon as possible.
Mayo Clinic Health System said they've seen an increase in urgent care visits.
News 18 also reached out to the Eau Claire Area School District. Superintendent Mary Ann Hardebeck said the district hasn't seen a concerning amount of student absences since school started back up after winter break on Tuesday.