Peak flu season hits Wisconsin, much of nation

CREATED Jan 21, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The City of Milwaukee Health Department has released new flu hospitalization numbers, a day after the Centers for Disease Control reported the flu was widespread in forty states.

The flu isn't a reportable disease in Wisconsin, but hospitalizations associated with the illness are.

"Right now, we're looking at about 185 hospitalizations alone right here in the city of Milwaukee. That represents about 22 percent of all hospitalizations statewide," explained Paul Biedrzycki, Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health with the City of Milwaukee.

Each year, the flu is expected to become widespread.  The C.D.C is calling it an epidemic because the disease is widely circulated and the majority of the population is at risk.

"We refer to the flu season as a seasonal flu epidemic when it reaches the peak of the season, which in Wisconsin is right about now." 

There have been dozens of flu-related deaths reported across the country this flu season. Two pregnant women have died in Wisconsin.

The best prevention against the flu is getting a flu vaccine.  

"It's still not too late to get vaccinated.  Good hand hygiene and cough etiquette go a long way in reducing the transmission of flu.  This is a highly contagious disease that's spread by airborne droplets, and also on commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, stairwell railings, and countertops," Biedrzycki said.