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| Topic: MARATHON
Posted: September 28 2009 at 6:22pm
Marathon County information.
Joined: August 28 2009
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|Posted: February 21 2011 at 6:59am|
Flu slow, but on upswing
February 21, 2011
Flu activity in central Wisconsin has been relatively mild compared with recent seasons, but experts say the bug might just have gotten off to a slow start.
Just a handful of people were found to have influenza in January, but patients steadily have been reporting flu-like symptoms during the past two weeks.
The state last week reported flu activity now is considered high in northcentral Wisconsin, said Ruth Mark, an epidemiologist with the Marathon County Health Department.
Dr. Ed Belongia, an epidemiologist and national influenza expert at Marshfield Clinic, said the clinic's system also has experienced an uptick in activity during the past two weeks.
"It was really quiet up until the first week of February," Belongia said. "I would still say compared to other seasons it's still fairly low."
Dr. Claire Reed, a family practice physician and medical director for Aspirus Network's walk-in clinics, said she has seen the number of people with flu-like symptoms take off since early February. While activity is similar to past years at the clinics, she said, the symptoms appear to be milder than during recent seasons.
"I think most of the people we're seeing clearly don't feel well," Reed said. "But honestly, I don't believe in our three walk-in (clinics) that we have that we're having to hospitalize people for influenza."
Belongia, who leads influenza vaccine-effectiveness studies for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the vaccine this year appears to be a good match for the two most common strains seen to date.
He said about 90 percent of the positive tests done throughout the Marshfield Clinic system are for two Type A strains. One is the well-known H1N1 strain, and the other is H3N2, Belongia said.
Belongia said H1N1 isn't causing the widespread panic as it did in the fall of 2009 because a lot of the population now is immune to the virus. But H3N2, a strain that has come and gone in the U.S. since the 1960s, is causing about half of the influenza cases in central Wisconsin, he said.
Belongia said it's nearly impossible to guess what will happen during the remainder of flu season.
"It could continue like this, or it could double right now," he said.
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