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Flu begins making the rounds in Wisconsin; state health officials urge use of flu vaccine

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Health officials across the United States are still urging people to get their flu vaccines as the virus continues to spread in 40 states and Puerto Rico and has been associated with 15 pediatric deaths, seven of them reported in the week ending January 28.

MADISON — State health officials say the flu season is getting an early start in Wisconsin.

From September 1- September 22, 2017,  there have been 19 confirmed cases of influenza in Wisconsin and 8 hospitalizations, compared to 5 confirmed cases and two hospitalizations during the same period in 2016.

Officials with the state say the flu shot is safe and effective for people six months old and older. However, there are certain people who are at a greater risk of getting the flu and could have serious health complications if they do come down with the virus.

Those who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccination include:

  • People 65 years old and older.
  • People with chronic health issues, like heart disease and diabetes.
  • Pregnant women. The flu shot protects the mom-to-be and provides protection for her baby for several months after birth.
  • People who are around other people at work or school.

Supplies of the vaccine are plentiful and available through health care providers and many pharmacies.

In addition to the flu shot, officials say there are simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves and others from illness:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve, and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.
  • Never share drinking cups, straws, and utensils.
  • When possible, avoid being exposed to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.
  • Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest, and do not smoke.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces, like doorknobs, the refrigerator handles, your phone, and faucets.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Get rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid using tobacco and alcohol.

Information about the 2017-2018 flu season can be found in the DHS Weekly Influenza Report.

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