Winter illness creeping in

NORTHEAST, Wis. (WBAY) - Colds and coughs, flu and even the norovirus, in addition to the holiday season, it's also the start of sickness season. And the germs are starting to creep into Northeast Wisconsin.

'Tis the season for winter illnesses. Whether it's coughs and colds or the flu, doctors in our area sa now is when they start to see an increase in patients who report feeling ill.

According to Dr. Eric Smiltneek from ThedaCare, "It looks like it's trending pretty similar to where we were this time last year. Definitely when people start to get together for the holidays you get all the flu bugs from the rest of the midwest and the rest of the country, so we do start to see an intermixing of bacteria that people tend to see more illness around this time."

While illnesses are on the rise, locally, it doesn't mean doctors are seeing more patients now than in years past. In fact, the latest CDC flu tracking map shows Wisconsin remains fairly healthy as opposed to some southern states.

"Wisconsin is still considered green which is ok, so even though our numbers may start to inch up, we're still within that okay zone," says Jo Ellen Biadasz with the Outagamie County Heath Department.

Tostay in that ok zone, the health department says there are steps people can all take to remain healthy and avoid the flu.

Jo Ellen Biadasz adds, "If we just follow a couple of things, vaccinate if you can, stay home if you're ill so don't share that joy with anybody, was your hands good and cover your cough."

And if you do come down with an illness, know that it shouldn't last long. The stomach flu is lasting one to three days, while upper respiratory infections can last up to a week with the cough lingering for as many as two.

But, if symptoms persist or get worse, patients should try to get in to see their doctor.