LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Thirty children around the country have already died from influenza or related illnesses according to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local hospitals are seeing more and more people coming in for care because of the flu outbreak.
Doctors at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse say this is the worst flu season since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Since the flu season began, the La Crosse location has had about eight patients at any given time requiring hospitalization.
"Unfortunately the vaccines are not as effective against this particular strain as the other strains," said Dr. Raj Palraj, infectious diseases physician for Mayo Clinic Health System.
The Influenza A strain known as 'H3N2' reported across the country is known to be particularly dangerous.
"For people with heart disease, lung disease, the elderly population or very young population are more susceptible to get sicker," Palraj said.
Luckily for Sand Lake Elementary students, nurse Emily Hanes hasn't heard of any confirmed cases of the flu at the school. Kids are mostly complaining of cold symptoms.
"I think the Christmas break kind of helped us. To go against us though, we had that nice cold spell when everyone was stuck inside for recess. So, everyone was sharing germs," Hanes said.
While there are posters around the schools about covering coughs and sneezes, the nurses have also taken the matter into their own hands literally.
"[We've] also done some hand washing in classes with students to encourage them to wash their hands the right way," Hanes said.
If your student has a fever over a hundred degrees, is vomiting or has diarrhea, she says they should stay home until they're symptom free for at least 48 hours.
"That's the way we're helping decrease the spread to other students in the school. So we want to keep everyone healthy," Hanes said.
Doctors say the H3N2 strain is treatable with the proper medication. However, you should call your primary care physician to confirm that your symptoms are from the flu.
Gundersen Health System says it has treated 60 people in its outpatient clinic. Fifteen people have required hospitalization in January.
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