UW Health reports surge in flu cases in recent weeks

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 10:40 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Doctors with UW Health are noting a huge uptick in flu cases over the last few weeks and are asking the community to stay safe.

During the week of Nov. 21-27, UW Health reported 422 cases of influenza. A spokesperson for UW Health said that number is higher than anything it saw during the 2019-2020 flu season, which was the last one before the pandemic started. The health system says this increase in cases is concerning, as the 2019-2020 flu season was severe and peaked in February of 2020 with 318 cases in one week.

UW Health officials say cases are not going down any time soon because we are now just starting the regular flu season. The rapid increase in influenza cases has taken them off guard. UW Health says it is very early to see cases skyrocket the way they are right now, but people were just on holiday vacation.

They say most immune systems haven’t seen influenza since the start of the pandemic. UW-Health’s Dr. Jeff Pothof explained what he thinks is a main factor in rising cases.

“Now that you know COVID is at a lower level, folks are probably taking advantage of the opportunity to go out and do things that they couldn’t do for two years, or, you know, congregate with friends and have a good time,” Pothof said. “And you know that’s all well and fine, but it would increase the rate of flu and how quickly we would see those cases.”

Pothof says flu hospitalizations look pretty good. Most flu hospitalizations occur a week or two after being diagnosed.

“I think the good news is, is the conversion of people who get influenza to those that get hospitalized is much lower compared to those who got Covid and then got hospitalized,” Pothof said.

Pothof did say there is always a chance a person can get any combination of flu, COVID-19 and RSV. He says the best way to prevent getting the flu, as well as decreasing the severity of the virus, is getting a flu shot.

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