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More severe flu strain on the rise

Posted at 9:20 AM, Mar 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-03 10:20:11-05

According to the CDC, the flu is peaking in many states across the country, but this year in Wisconsin it's the opposite.

The number of cases are still increasing, and there's an uncommon strain to watch out for that's starting to show up more.

Every winter parents like Rob Stoltz worry their kids will get the flu.

"We want our kids to be safe and taken care of to the extent possible," Stoltz said. "It's enough of a shock and a fear factor that it puts in you as a parent."

The same goes for Tatiana Belousov.

"We know how dangerous it can be," Belousov said.

This anxiety is a reality, especially after last season when the CDC reported a record 172 child deaths around the country from the flu.

So far this season, 56 children in the U.S. have died, including one here in Wisconsin, and over the past few weeks doctors have started seeing more of a stronger strain of the virus.

"H3N2 is a strain that most of us haven't seen as often so we don't have any built up immunity," Dr. Lyn Ranta of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin said.

Dr. Ranta says symptoms can be more severe.

"They're more likely to get serious illness with high fever, chills and body aches" Dr. Ranta said.

Because cases of flu haven't peaked here yet, Dr. Ranta expects it to get worse before it gets better.

"Some people think it's late in the season so the risk of influenza has passed and that's just not true," Dr. Ranta said.

So if you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, she says there's still plenty of time.

"It's not too late," Dr. Ranta said.

The CDC feels we could be dealing with this stronger strain of the flu until May.