Series: The Flu And Wisconsin's Public Health

No two flu seasons are alike — from one year to the next, different types of the influenza virus dominate. Every year, virologists, health officials and healthcare providers marshall their resources to prevent and treat infections. When a flu season is particularly tough, as was the case in 2017-18, the illness tests limitations and vulnerabilities in the public health system. Wisconsin plays a crucial role in a nationwide network of influenza surveillance, which is also on guard for the emergence of a global flu pandemic. Meeting future challenges of influenza hinges on relationships that connect scientists and healthcare providers at local, state, federal and international levels.
 
No one questions that the 2017-2018 flu season was tough, but how unusual was it really?
In 1918, the Spanish flu attacked young, otherwise healthy adults, killed quickly and often, and leapt from Europe to Wisconsin with unimaginable speed. Its cause was unknown; its mode of transmission was unknown; how to stop it was unknown.
Healthcare providers across the United States are longing to get back to a steady drip.
As Wisconsinites push through a hard flu season, public-health officials are following a distinct mix of influenza strains and worrying about the effectiveness of this year's vaccines, but they're also thinking a lot about an intricate disease-tracking network that's been built up over time.
A spike in flu cases comes as healthcare providers continue to deal with a shortage of one of their most common and crucial tools: pre-filled IV bags.
The 2017-18 influenza season is well underway across the United States, and it's proving to be a rough one.