Q: When does the flu season start in Wisconsin and how long does it last?
A: The influenza season got an early start this year in Dane County — mid-August, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County.
Typically, the influenza season in the United States starts as early as October and can go through May, with its peak between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between mid-August and early October, there had already been five flu-related hospitalizations in Dane County. Last season, there were 337 hospitalizations.
The flu, a respiratory disease, is spread from person to person when droplets of moisture from an infected person spread through the air by coughing, sneezing or talking, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Symptoms include a fever, chills, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Although most people recover within a week after they become ill, influenza can last longer and cause life-threatening complications in the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions, according to the state health department.
Getting vaccinated is the best protection, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County.
The best time to get vaccinated is in October and November, the state health department said.
Other precautions include disinfecting surfaces that are touched often, washing hands, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoiding contact with the infected and staying hydrated and well-rested.
— Chris Aadland