The number of flu cases increased substantially in Madison, compared to cases recorded during the same season last year, according to a news release from the University of Wisconsin Hospital.

According to numbers released by WKOW from UW Health, 188 adults were tested positive for flu at UW last week, bringing the total number up to 929 as of Sunday. This marked a steep rise from 198 cases last year. 

Compared to 76 cases among children during the same season last year, an additional 125 were reported last week, resulting in a total number of 821 children infected up to this point, according to WKOW. 

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As of Feb. 19, the flu had resulted in the deaths of three children in Wisconsin since the season began Oct. 1 last year, according to coverage from Channel3000.

Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Health Services Coordinator Danielle Krbecek said during an interview with Channel3000 that being in a school setting where everyone is close to one another contributed to the rapid spread of germs. This was particularly prominent during the flu season, where many cases of illnesses were observed, Krbecek said. 

The best solution, Krbecek said, was to focus on prevention efforts. These included conducting hand-washing lessons for students, wiping down shared items and classrooms, and making sure families know how to keep their sick children home.

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“Yes, there are some Wisconsin laws that families have to follow as far as chronic absenteeism, however there are exceptions to that, one of them being ill,” Krbecek said during the interview. “We always ask that parents contact their doctor’s office to get doctor’s notes to help excuse them from school, and that actually qualifies them as medically excused.”

UW Assistant Professor of Infectious Disease Joseph McBride also told Channel3000 the number of flu cases observed in Wisconsin this year was comparable to that recorded during the H1N1 flu pandemic ten years ago.

Regarding flu prevention, McBride said administrative changes were also helpful.

“One example of that is how the American Family Children’s Hospital right now, we’ve been limiting sibling contacts within the hospital itself, which is the first time we’ve done that in about ten years, to cut down on transmission of the virus,” McBride said in an interview with Channel300.

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McBride said individuals getting the flu shot also helped control the spread of the virus, and the vaccine has been “pretty effective this year,” according to Channel3000.

With regards to the recent coronavirus, McBride said the flu posed a greater threat to Wisconsinites.

“It’s not a competition, but the danger of us here in Wisconsin is far and away higher with the flu than it would be for the coronavirus,” McBride said in the interview.