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Doctor: Flu season 'very, very wimpy'

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GINA R. HEINE
March 14, 2012
— Perhaps the mild winter in Wisconsin helped keep down the number of flu cases.

Nobody can say for sure, but one way or another, this year's flu season turned out "very, very wimpy," a local doctor said.


"Does the really mild winter have anything to do with it? Maybe. It's hard to know for sure," said Dr. Keith Konkol, director of infectious diseases at Mercy Health System.


Flu season typically runs October through March, but this year it never showed up in strong numbers. Flu activity was minimal across Rock County and Wisconsin, according to weekly reports by state health officials, Konkol said.


The flu is thought to spread easier in winter months because of close contact among people confined indoors, said Dr. Franz Keilhauer, St. Mary's Janesville Hospital emergency services medical director.


Local doctors said they've only recently seen even a handful of cases. State health officials urged residents early this month to get a flu shot after confirmed cases started showing up in Wisconsin.


But once we get through March, "we're usually pretty safe," Konkol said.


The flu shot was an effective match with the strains that circulated this year, Keilhauer said. Even though the number cases was low this year, people still should get the flu shot in the fall, he said.


A decrease in flu cases this year doesn't give any indication in what next year might bring.


"Something new could come around," Konkol said. "We could have a horrible season next year—you can't really predict from one season to the next."



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