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Flu plagues New Richmond area

Flu season has arrived and while most health professionals are estimating that New Richmond has hit its peak, residents are still encouraged to get their flu shot.

Laurie Harvieux, communications manager with Westfields Hospital, said the hospital's Emergency Department saw an increase in patients during the first couple weeks of January, but the number of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) at Westfields Hospital has not been unusually high.

"The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that for the week ending Jan. 12, 2013 Influenza-like illness for our region is moderate," she said.

Just because health professionals are estimating that New Richmond is in its peak period doesn't mean people should take fewer precautions.

"Despite being at or around the peak period, we can expect to see higher than normal (baseline) influenza activity for several more weeks," Harvieux said.

In the New Richmond School District, Joan Simpson, school nurse, said the number of sick students and staff continues to rise.

"Last week we had a day when 101 high school students were out ill, including 15 students sent home from the health office that day," she said. "Also, there was a day when we had 10 elementary students out of one classroom and nine out of another."

In Somerset, the number of sick students and staff hasn't been abnormally high, said Randy Rosburg, district administrator.

"That said, we have had a large number of students and staff out for sick leave," he said.

To help battle the spead of of the illness, Westfields Hospital has set up kiosks in the building. The kiosks hold hand-sanitizer, masks and tissues at the main entrance and nursing units.

"We are asking people not to visit patients if they have symptoms of the flu or flu-like illnesses, including a fever above 100 degrees, a bad cough or sore throat, chills or body aches, diarrhea or vomiting," Harvieux said.

At New Richmond schools tips are included with the daily announcements at each of the schools, said Simpson.

"There is no way to keep the flu out, but education and awareness are powerful," she said.

Those tips include things like cover your cough, stay home if you are ill and wash your hands.

For more information about the flu, visit