Press Release: State Health Officials Warn the Flu Season is Far From Over

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued a press release indicating that they expect this year’s flu season expected to be one of the longest in recent memory. Please see the press release below.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) expects this to be one of the longest flu seasons in recent memory with the powerful influenza A/H3 virus currently affecting young and old alike.

“The average peak for flu activity is the first week of February, but we expect this season to extend at least through the end of March, if not beyond.” said DHS Influenza Coordinator Thomas Haupt.

The H3 type of the virus is more powerful than the A/H1 virus that circulated earlier in the flu season. While the first wave was hard on younger people, Haupt says the H3 virus is hitting people 65 years old and older especially hard.

“H3 is covered by this year’s flu vaccine, so if you haven’t already, know there is still time to get a flu shot,” Haupt added.

The flu vaccine is safe and effective and is a better match to this season’s virus than last year’s vaccine. Plus, by getting the flu shot, you’re protecting yourself and everyone around you from serious illness.

In addition to the vaccine, people are strongly urged to cough or sneeze into a sleeve or tissue (and throw the tissue away after one use), wash their hands and use hand sanitizer, and stay home if they’re sick to avoid spreading germs to others.

Hospitalizations for flu-related symptoms are increasing to about 50 a day in Wisconsin, with one in five hospitalized patients being admitted to the intensive care unit due to the severity of their symptoms. So far this season, there have been 36 influenza deaths in the state.

Look for updates from “The Flu Guy”, Tom Haupt, on the DHS Facebook(link is external) and Twitter(link is external) pages. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly Respiratory Virus Surveillance Report by email(link is external).

Even though advisors’ main priority is to keep their clients safe and healthy, it’s also important for them to stay healthy during flue season. To help prevent the flu, consider these tips from the Centers for Disease Control:

  1. Avoid close contact.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
    If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
  4. Clean your hands.
    Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth
  7. Practice other good health habits.
    Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Additionally, here are some tips for staying healthy at work:

  • Find out about your employer’s plans if an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
  • Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.
  • If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.

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