Young adults are being hit hardest by flu - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Young adults are being hit hardest by flu

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – This year health experts are seeing an increase in the number of young adults with the flu.

A cough or a sneeze is all it takes to get infected, said Dr. Brian Allen, director of UW-L's Student Health Center.

"Because this is spread by droplets where you cough and the other person inhales it," Allen said.

The Health Center has given about 1,000 flu shots this year, according to Allen.

But health experts are saying young adults have been hit the hardest. It's similar to a trend seen back in 2009 with the spread of the H1N1 strain.

"Most people believe (young adults) just haven't seen as many influenza viruses as older folks, so they really don't have any collateral protection," Allan said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is reporting that only 15 to 20 percent of adults, ages 18 to 49, have gotten influenza vaccination this season.

That age group is also the most hospitalized. Influenza has sent 143 people to the hospital.

"We don't most commonly see that in what we think of as ‘those healthy people in the prime of their life.' We don't think about them getting hit hard by the flu," said La Crosse County Public Health Nurse Christine Gillespie.

She said number of flu cases are peaking now and are expected to steadily increase over the next coming weeks. Adding people ages 18 to 64 are most affected.

"Generally flu season will peak in February or March, so we're looking at things happening historically a little earlier again this year," according to Gillespie.

Flu symptoms can include a fever over 100 degrees, body ache, bad cough, headache, and in extreme cases, vomiting or diarrhea, according to Allan.

He said if people start to experience symptoms, see a doctor. That way they can get on medication. But if they haven't received vaccination yet, it's not too late.

Allan said get vaccinated as soon as possible. That way the antibodies have a few weeks to build up.

According to the La Crosse County Health Department, four people have been hospitalized for complications with influenza in La Crosse County so far.

Three of those people were hospitalized in November, the fourth, in January.

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