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100 flu hospitalizations/day in WI: “Feeling like you’ve gotten knocked off your feet? You should come in”

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MILWAUKEE -- This flu season has turned out to be a bad one and it came early. The Wisconsin Public Health website Wednesday, Jan. 10 showed the number of cases of influenza has increased statewide.

"When I talk about body aches, like everything hurts. Like blinking your eyes hurt. You just literally feel like you've been hit by a bus," Dr. Connie Desarden, internal medicine physician with Aurora Health Care said.

Dr. Connie Desarden

Dr. Desarden said she's seen several patients with the flu and other viral illnesses, like Jennifer Dretzka. She got sick on New Year's Eve.

"I was making crab-stuffed mushrooms, and one minute I felt great and the next minute I totally felt like crap. It hit that fast," she said.

Many flu cases will go undiagnosed because patients wait too long to come to the doctor.

"It's a little bit difficult because people end up coming to us a week, two weeks after the symptoms have started, and at that point, we don't event test because any medications we have won't even be effective at that point," Dr. Desarden said.

Jennifer Dretzka

That was the case for Dretzka.

"I know, and it's a virus, but I came in now because not only am I not getting well, but I'm starting to have trouble breathing, so I'm hoping it's not progressing beyond the flu to pneumonia," Dretzka said.

Dretzka said her biggest regret is not getting the flu shot. Dr. Desarden said it's still a good idea.

"If you haven't gotten sick so far, it's a good time to come in just to keep that good track record for the rest of the winter," Dr. Desarden said.

Ironically, as a former swine flu patient, Dretzka did get the flu shot every season -- but not this season.

"Because I was like, 'I never get the flu. I'm not going to get the shot,' and I was so sick with that, that now I understand why people actually die from the flu -- because I could do nothing," Dretzka said.

"If you you're feeling like you've gotten knocked off your feet, you should definitely come in," Dr. Desarden said.

Dr. Desarden said if you come in within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, they can test you for the flu and give you Tamiflu, which can shorten the duration of the virus.

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