MADISON (WKOW) -- An early flu outbreak is making people sick nationwide and officials say they're starting to see more and more cases in Wisconsin.
Usually the peak time for the flu is the last week in January into early February, but some of the numbers coming in already surpass last year's totals.
"I'm expecting to see more and more people over the next two to three weeks," Dr. Jonathon Temte says about patients with flu symptoms at the Wingra Family Medical Center in Madison.
Public Health officials say 42 people have been hospitalized in Dane County this season. "Twenty-three of those have been reported in January, so that's quite a few in four days," Amanda Kita-Yarbro, who works as the communicable disease specialist at Public Health Madison & Dane County, says.
Statewide, the numbers are growing fast too. According to Wisconsin's Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Tom Haupt, more than 2,800 cases have been confirmed. He says the number of hospitalizations has gone from 385 to 760 in the past week. For all of last season, there were less than 400 hospitalizations.
"This year we're seeing a relatively newer virus come out that we haven't seen for the past two or three years and despite the fact that a lot of people are immunized, we're seeing these nice conditions outside climatically that seems to be helping the flu transmit person to person," Dr. Temte says. He doesn't think this season is out of the ordinary, but it's a lot worse than what we've seen in the past few years.
Nationally, this is the earliest flu outbreak in 10 years.