Sheboygan hospital sees surge in flu activity, experts urge healthy habits to avoid getting sick

SHEBOYGAN -- Flu activity is high throughout the United States -- and Wisconsin is no exception. It is expected to stay that way for several weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Sheboygan, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital is reporting more than double the number of flu cases this season compared to last. The hospital has seen 60 cases of flu -- and seven flu-related hospitalizations. Last season, St. Nicholas saw only 26 cases -- but nine hospitalizations.

"There are many people out in our communities that have not been vaccinated," said Mary Martin, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital Chief Nursing Officer.

Martin has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare. She said it is never too late to get the flu vaccine. In the meantime, Martin urges healthy habits.

"I'm going to sing the alphabet and I'm going to use the soap and the friction," Martin said as she demonstrated proper hand-washing techniques.

Martin said wearing masks can help prevent the spread of germs -- and tells FOX6 News that simple steps could go a long way when it comes to staying healthy.

"Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow (when you sneeze or cough). Proper nutrition, hydration, exercise," Martin said.

The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older gets vaccinated. In Wisconsin, there have been more than 40 flu-related deaths so far this season -- three of them children.

To further prevent the spread of the flu:

    Flu is a respiratory illness. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. In some cases, people may also experience diarrhea and vomiting. If you or someone you know may have the flu, stay home, treat the fever and contact your health care provider if necessary.

    Flu activity in the region has also prompted visitor restrictions at HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in an effort to keep patients safe, and to help prevent the spread of germs.