MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The flu has hit Wisconsin hard, already sickening hundreds more people than during all of last season, state health officials said Friday.
As of the end of the day, Wisconsin had seen 4,249 confirmed influenza cases, said state Department of Health Services spokeswoman Claire Smith. That's more than twice the 2,034 cases the state saw during the entire 2011-12 flu season. The agency reported flu activity has been most intense in the state's northern, northeastern and southeastern regions.
The actual number of cases could be much higher; agency officials say most people suffering from the flu don't see a doctor and never undergo tests to confirm the ailment.
Smith said the agency had recorded 1,360 flu-associated hospitalizations as of the end of the day Thursday. That's about 970 more hospitalizations than last season. One child has died, Smith said. She described the child as a northeastern Wisconsin teenager but had no further information.
The total number of deaths is unknown, because the state the state doesn't count adults who die of influenza-associated illnesses. And the worst may be yet to come. The flu season typically peaks in late January or early February, Smith said.
The numbers may look shocking, Smith said, but they might be explained simply by the law of averages. The state has experienced fairly mild flu seasons since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, she said.
DHS officials urged people to get vaccinated, saying Wisconsin still has an ample supply of vaccine.