Doctor believes Wisconsin “tripledemic” cases are undercounted
MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released its latest surveillance report amid the “tripledemic” of the flu, RSV, and COVID-19. But a local doctor says those numbers may not tell the full story of what’s going on in the community.
To quickly summarize, the DHS’s weekly report through Dec. 3 shows Influenza A is making a serious run to be the most dangerous respiratory virus in Wisconsin right now. Deaths more than tripled from the prior week, from 3 to 10 in the state.
The number of positive RSV cases looks to have peaked a few weeks ago. We’re seeing a downturn with a 13% positivity rate compared to 28% of tests for RSV coming back positive a month ago.
New positive COVID-19 tests have hovered around 9% and 10% of those tested for the last two weeks. The Omicron variant remains dominant. As of Dec. 12, the DHS says 34 COVID-19 deaths were reported over the past week and the 7-day average for new confirmed cases is 1,026 per day.
Dr. Zachary Baeseman, associate chief medical officer of primary care for ThedaCare, says he doesn’t trust the numbers.
“The truth is, most people aren’t getting tested,” he explained. “The testing has probably dropped a lot, and part of that is because much of the disease burden that we’re going to be seeing here is going to be really mild stuff. So … a sniffle, a cough, a cold, a fever for a day or two. It’s stuff you may not need to call your doctor’s office about at all.”
Meaning the fight against this tripledemic is far from over.
And Baeseman says catching any one of these illnesses leaves your immune system vulnerable to a one-two punch. He fears that could lead to deadly outcomes.
“When someone has influenza, and they have a terribly high fever for 5 to 6 days, and they’re dehydrated, and it’s the second week of that illness, and they aren’t able to get off of the couch, feeling a bit lethargic … they’re not taking good, deep breaths. That’s exactly the scenario where you get a secondary bacterial infection, which is a pneumonia, and that’s where mortality starts to increase pretty traumatically.”
Dr. Baeseman says the same rules we’ve been hearing apply to keeping yourself healthier this holiday season: Get vaccinated, wash your hands, and have a plan that’s based on the most vulnerable person in your household if you’re planning to have a gathering.
He adds you should keep an eye on what’s happening in your area. And if you feel a little under the weather, or worse than normal, get checked. It’s better to be safe and healthy so you can enjoy this time with your loved ones.
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