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Wisconsin flu cases, hospitalizations spike

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013
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Milwaukee health officials have counted 333 probable or confirmed influenza cases in the city and 249 hospitalizations. Most of those patients are 65 or older, said Sarah DeRoo, a spokeswoman for the city health department. Influenza-related emergency room visits have tripled over the past weeks, she added.

Milwaukee County hospitals have become so crammed due in part to flu sufferers they've been diverting their ambulances transporting patients with non-life-threatening problems to whichever facility has openings.

Vaccination campaigns that have been going on since October have reduced vaccine inventories, DeRoo said. But she said things haven't reached a critical level yet and the city could reach out to the state for more.

Amanda Kita-Yarbro, epidemiologist for Public Health Madison and Dane County, said she didn't have any numbers on confirmed cases but had counted 91 flu-related hospitalizations since the beginning of October. Ninety occurred in December and January.

The culprit is a stronger version of the flu virus known as H3N2, she said But, like Smith, she noted the state has seen mild flu seasons for the last few years and this season might simply represent a return to normal.

"It just seems much harsher," Kita-Yarbro said, "but it could turn out to be just a typical year."