Wisconsin records 2nd child death of flu season

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FILE – In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. The U.S. winter flu season is off to its earliest start in more than 15 years. An early barrage of illness in the South has begun to spread more broadly, and there’s a decent chance flu season could peak much earlier than normal, health officials say. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin has recorded its second child death of the flu season as influenza activity surges in the state, health officials said Thursday.

The child who died from flu is from southern Wisconsin, said Tom Haupt, influenza surveillance coordinator for the state Department of Health Services. Last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 78 child deaths from flu nationwide since October,

Health officials report more than 500 flu hospitalizations this week, including at least 100 hospitalizations reported Thursday morning, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“We’re not at peak activity yet,” Haupt said. “We probably won’t be at peak activity for several weeks, followed by many more weeks of high activity.”

The strains of flu circulating most in Wisconsin now tend to strike people under 50, unlike most flu that is typically a problem for older adults, Haupt said.

More than 40% of Wisconsin residents have received flu vaccine this season, which is a record, Haupt said. But that still leaves many people unprotected, and vaccine remains available, he said.

While it’s too early to know how effective this year’s vaccine is, Haupt said vaccination is still the best means of protection against influenza.

“It is not too late to get the vaccine,” he said.

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