TOMAH Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Tomah Health has recorded its first case of influenza this year.

Hospital Infection Prevention Practitioner & Registered Nurse Candi Newlun, RN, BSN, said a patient was hospitalized for Influenza Type A. “We have been seeing Influenza A cases since the beginning of September, but we just had our first reportable case of a person admitted with Influenza A,” Newlun explained. “Last year Tomah Health’s first reportable influenza case was November 29, so we are a little earlier with our first inpatient this year.”

Newlun said no flu cases were reported in 2020, but in 2019, the first reportable case occurred on Nov. 20.

Health officials have said outbreaks of seasonal diseases like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) plus another COVID wave could render what some have dubbed as a “tripledemic.”

“COVID has impacted the seasonal flu pattern. That could be in part due to the lack of immunity related to social distancing and masking over the past two years,” Newlun said. “All the exposure that usually happens that increases immunity year after year didn’t really happen. If everybody goes two years without that virus (influenza, RSV, etc.) then they don’t have that protection.”

Newlun said health care has been taxed over the past two years. “When everyone gets sick because of the lack of immunity to influenza, RSV, or various other seasonal viruses then it will also have an impact on our health care system. We are seeing all ages with RSV and influenza and for the populations that include young children, people over the age of 65, and people that are immunocompromised or have chronic illness this can be very serious.”

Newlun said while the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary, flu viruses can be detected all year round. “Typically, influenza activity starts to increase in October and then peaks December through February and then decreases,” she said. “This past season we saw some late cases even into June.”

Most people who have flu are infected with the influenza Type A virus which includes fever and chills, headache and muscle aches, feeling tired and weak, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and cough The other types of influenza virus are type B and type C.

Newlun said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone six months and older get vaccinated against the flu each year. She said flu vaccination reduces the burden of flu illness, hospitalization, and death, and getting vaccinated could also help protect those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

She also recommended good hygiene including washing hands and avoiding touching your face, especially in public. “Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze because viruses are spread through contact with droplets and of course wash or sanitize your hands after,” she said.

Newlun also advised avoiding close contact with people who are sick and staying home when you are ill. “Practice good health habits like cleaning and disinfecting surfaces at school, work, and home, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of water, and eat nutritious food are all important this time of year.”