Influenza cases peaking in Wisconsin

Flu activity lower where vaccine rate is higher
Influenza cases peaking in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of 45 states in which the CDC currently classifies the flu as being widespread.

“In terms of how big a flu season this is turning out to be, it is busier than last year, but it isn’t outside the realm of expectations for the flu season. I think we all realize the flu is inherently quite unpredictable, so it is not outside of what one would expect, but it is still pretty heavy,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director for infectious disease control at UW Health.

Since Sept. 1 there have been 4,228 confirmed cases of the flu in Wisconsin. The number of cases spiked in February with 1,210 patients being diagnosed with the flu during the week ending Feb. 18.

While flu cases in northern Wisconsin are considered widespread, in the southern part of the state the number of cases are considered to be moderate. The increased flu activity in the northern part of the state is matched by a lower percentage of flu vaccination in that region.

“The vaccine protects you against influenza and I think in areas where vaccination rates are high, I think you would expect to see more immunity, which is even for people who haven’t been vaccinated. I think that’s what we’re seeing for those areas where influenza activity may be a little lower than what you would expect, given what the rest of the state is going through,” Safdar said.

This year’s vaccine has been found to be 48 to 50 percent effective in providing protection from the flu. The vaccine also helps to lessen the severity of the symptoms for individuals who get the flu.

While the flu season may be peaking, it will continue be a threat, especially for individuals who have not been vaccinated. For that reason health officials strongly recommend individuals, who have not been vaccinated, do so.