Deadly flu season in Wisconsin

CREATED Jan. 3, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - The flu season has already turned deadly in Wisconsin.  It's also wide-spread.  But there is a strong vaccine to fight it this year.  This year's flu season hit about a month early and is still going strong.

When you think about flu deaths, you usually think about the very young or elderly, but two teens have recently died from flu complications.

"Because you don't want to get the flu, that's bad," said elementary student Carita Marino.

Most of us don't like getting shots, but Marino says it's no big deal because she doesn't want to get sick.   Doctors agree, it's worth it to prevent what could be a deadly flu virus.

The flu has been deadly already this year.  A 15 year-old died in Northeast Wisconsin early in the season. And on Saturday, a 17 year-old visiting family in Wisconsin died from flu complications.

"I think people misunderstand how serious the flu can be. When patients come in and are diagnosed with the influenza, they are surprised at how sick they really are," said Dr. Unchu Ko of Columbia-St. Mary's.

The state health department says this is the worst flu season in years.  So far 660 Wisconsinites have been hospitalized this flu season, compare that with just 395 total last flu season.

"I think the reason why it's a lot worse and a lot earlier this year is because those strains were circulating here in the spring," Said Dr. Ko.

That's why Carita and her mom Jennifer get the flu shot every year.

"Yup, they get it every year.  I'm glad that they do, hearing that tragic news,"said Jennifer Marino.

The health department is expecting  the flu outbreak to get a lot worse.  They don't expect the flu to peak for another 3-4 weeks.  They say if you haven't, get your flu shot, and remember to wash your hands often.