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.
 
State health officials say seasonal influenza has not peaked yet in Wisconsin and people can expect the illness to hang around through much of April.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is at the center of controversial avian influenza research that involves making the virus potentially more dangerous for humans. Will Cushman of WisContext discusses what it would mean for this research to resume.
A UW-Madison laboratory is set to resume experiments that could build the foundation of an early warning system for flu pandemics, but critics say its approval lacked transparency and creates unnecessary risks.
The 1918 influenza pandemic prompted intense interest in the disease, including in Wisconsin, placing scientists in the state at the vanguard of flu research over the ensuing century.
The seasonal flu has not hit the state or the country as hard as it did last year, which Wisconsin health officials described as "significant and strange."
Health officials say flu season never really ends; it just gets better or worse. But it did end — at least briefly — in Wisconsin.
Several factors combined to make the 2017-18 flu season particularly bad in Wisconsin. Scott Gordon of WisContext discusses how serious it was.
No one questions that the 2017-2018 flu season was tough, but how unusual was it really?
Visitor restrictions are being lifted in some hospitals as there are fewer reported cases of the flu but health officials warn the flu season is not over.
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.