Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wisconsin Sees Early Start to 2013 Flu Season, by William Ricioppo

Colder than average temperatures have brought an early start to flu season.

Holiday travel, family gatherings, and students traveling home from around the country brings large groups of people together, increasing chances for the spread of a virus.

“The good news is that if people who haven’t been vaccinated yet get a flu shot right now, they will be protected” (for the next holiday), says Dr. Henry Anderson of the State Health Office.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that anyone over six months get a flu shot.

College students traveling home for Thanksgiving may return to school with a bug or bring one back home for Christmas, so now would be a good time for this group to get inoculated.

“No one wants to be sick for finals or the holidays, and they don’t want to be responsible for spreading illness, either,” adds Anderson.

This year’s flu vaccine covers all currently circulating strains of the illness.

So far this season there have been fewer than 10 hospitalizations in Wisconsin, a number that is expected to increase. Cases of Influenza A and B have already been reported across the state.

In addition to getting a flu shot, frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and keeping commonly touched surfaces clean can help prevent the spread of the flu.

Both injected and nasal mist applications of the 2013 flu vaccine are available at most health care providers, public health departments, and some drug stores. College students can contact their school’s health services for campus immunization schedules. For more information on where to find a nearby vaccination clinic or participating pharmacy, visit www.flu.gov.