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Significant spike in flu activity in Madison

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Hospitals and clinics are seeing a big uptick in cases of the flu right now in the Madison area.

As of Monday, there have been 609 adults treated for the flu at UW Health and 67 hospitalized this flu season. That's up from 130 at the same time last year.

For kids, it's 595 cases and 20 hospitalized, up from 38 cases in the previous flu season.

SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital has admitted 51 patients, as of Tuesday. Most of those came in since the beginning of the year and 12 of them in the past week.

According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there have been 1,525 hospitalizations across Wisconsin and 30 deaths, including one child.

Public health officials say this season is definitely different than previous years, with high numbers early in fall and now.

"We're still seeing increased numbers within the state of Wisconsin. So, unfortunately, we're not at that peak yet where we can start to see a decrease each week. We're continuing to see higher case numbers of influenza," said Sarah Hughes, immunization coordinator with Public Health Madison & Dane County.

Hughes says it's hard to predict how long we'll see higher flu activity, but every time someone goes to work or school when they're sick, it spreads.

"We're just putting the rest of our friends, our family members, our co-workers at risk," she said. "And that's what will prolong this influenza season."

This flu season may be overshadowed this year because of the concerns over coronavirus, with one case diagnosed in Madison. But health officials say the average person should be more vigilant about protecting themselves from the flu.

"Risk for coronavirus is still low in Dane County and in Wisconsin as a whole, whereas the risk for influenza is high for everyone. So that is really what we're all most at risk for," Hughes said.

Experts say it's never too late to get the flu shot to protect yourself and those who are most vulnerable.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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