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In Rock County, influenza has decreased by 85% during the COVID-19-dominated season.Health care

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Precautions to combat the COVID-19 epidemic may be causing the bonus health benefits of reducing influenza.

Brenda Klahn, an infection preventive physician at SSM Health, said there were few cases of influenza this season. This is consistent with what other health authorities have said throughout the state.

It’s hard to say exactly why the flu season is almost gone, but precautions such as wearing masks, social distance, and hand washing work not only to prevent the flu epidemic, but also to prevent the COVID epidemic- 19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both COVID-19 and influenza are upper respiratory tract diseases that spread similarly, but COVID-19 is more contagious and fatal than influenza.

So far, 742 influenza-like illnesses in Rock County during the 2020-21 flu season, which lasted from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, according to data provided by the Rock County Public Health Department. Has been reported. ..

According to the data, these cases include people who have been seen by a doctor with flu-like symptoms and are considered likely, suspected, or confirmed to have the flu.

According to the data, this is an 85% reduction in cases from the 2019-20 flu season when 4,887 flu-like illnesses were reported.

The total number of influenza-like illnesses is reported seasonally as follows:

  • 2017-18: 4,696.
  • 2018-19: 3,255.
  • 2019-20: 4,887.
  • 2020-21: 742 as of February 15.

No one was hospitalized for the flu this season in the county, according to health ministry data.

“Although not so far, COVID rarely tests for influenza. COVID prophylaxis is also effective against influenza,” county epidemiologist Nick Zupan said in an email to Gazette. I did.

The following influenza hospitalizations are seen each year.

  • 2015-16: 78.
  • 2016-17: 207.
  • 2017-18: 247.
  • 2018-19: 137.
  • 2019-20: 145.
  • 2020-21: None as of February 15th.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, there have been 14,194 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rock County. According to county data, 4% of them, or about 568, are hospitalized.

According to Zupan, the health sector does not receive data on the total number of positive flu tests each year.

SSM Health has seen more people vaccinated against the flu this season than in recent years, Klahn said. This may also help reduce the number of influenza.

Clan hopes the flu cases will remain low, but said the traditional flu season is not over yet.

“We haven’t left the forest yet,” Clan said. “Often the flu season is highest in February and March.”

There are lessons that the community can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, which could have positive health consequences in the future, Klang said.

Frequent hand washing, maintaining distance in public, disinfecting the surface, and staying at home in the event of an illness are good habits that help prevent the spread of other illnesses, including the flu and common colds.

Health officials across the country warned of a possible “epidemic” of influenza and COVID-19 this summer. This can have a devastating impact on the healthcare system.

It never happened, Klang said, but continuous safety measures need to be taken to prevent it from happening yet this spring.

Increasing the number of COVID-19 vaccines can stop the spread of COVID-19, but in the meantime, vaccinated people carry the disease, which others, Klang said.

This includes employers or organizations that have many or most of their workers vaccinated. The safety protocol must remain intact for the time being, Clan said.

The CDC will guide most of the region’s decision-making when security measures may loosen, Klang said.

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