Officials at Tomah Memorial Hospital have recorded its first hospitalized case of influenza marking the start of the flu season. Hospital infection preventionist Jan Path, RN, BSN, said the case involved a woman who tested positive for the Type A strain of influenza Jan. 11.
Path said there was an isolated case of flu last month involving a 31-year-old man treated for influenza in the hospital’s emergency department.
Over the past few years, Path said the first cases of flu have occurred in January with the season peaking in February. “While Wisconsin still is below baseline, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana are all experiencing moderate levels, so you can feel it coming.” Path said more than 200 hospitalized cases of flu have been reported throughout the state.
Even though the flu season has begun, Path said the best prevention is a flu shot. “It is absolutely not too late to get the flu shot,” Path said. “I would still get vaccinated. It does take a couple of weeks to reach full immunity but that means you would have protection toward the middle of February when we could be swinging into the peak of our season.”
Path stressed that flu is a serious illness, which can result in death. “Influenza can be a very serious illness that comes on with a very sudden onset of a high fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, severe headache and fatigue,” she said.
Path also urged people with chronic illnesses, senior citizens and the very young, especially children under the age of three to seek medical attention if they suffer flu-like symptoms.
To avoid spreading the flu, Path said a person should stay home if sick, and practice good hygiene including washing hands frequently, avoid or limit contact with people who are sick, and cough or sneeze into the arm of your sleeve instead of hands.
Path added that seasonal flu activity can continue to occur as late as May.
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