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11 Wisconsinites die from flu complications, Flu hospitalizing more people than last year

Posted at 6:50 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 19:50:26-05

Milwaukee health leaders say the flu is hitting harder and earlier this season.

The city's health department reports from September to December of 2019 there were 131 influenza-associated hospitalizations. Last year, there were 17 in the same time period.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services reports 11 Wisconsinites have died from flu complications. They also report 459 influenza hospitalizations so far this season, that is more than three times as many as this time last year.

"There still time to get vaccinated," said Jeanette Kowalik, Milwaukee's Commissioner of Health.

The health department urges people who have not received their flu shot to get one. They call it the best defense against the flu.

Their message to anyone with flu like symptoms to stay home.

Over at the Hayat Pharmacy near 19th and North Avenue, manager Mazen Seddick noticed a spike in prescriptions from Tamiflu and its generic brand over the last two weeks. He says they have enough of the medication in supply, but he still urges people to get their flu shot.

Kowalik pointed to warmer weather over the holidays as a possible contributing factor to the early rise in flu.

"It has been warmer outside so weather does make a play a role in disease outbreak. Now we’re coming off of the holidays. People travel. There’s more congregation with various holiday parties and events. People being in one spot and breathing or coughing and sneezing is a very traditional way for people to get exposed to the illness," said Kowalik.

The city's health department says the most common flu viruses they're seeing this season are Influenza B and H1N1.