By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The flu is rampant in Minnesota and in Wisconsin, and it can be deadly.

The newest numbers show 306 people were hopitalized the first week of February. In Wisconsin, 534 were hospitalized that week.

WCCO’s Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield has been out for a while, but unfortunately she wasn’t on vacation. She had the flu.

susan elizabeth littlefield with the flu How To Avoid A 2nd Case Of The Flu

(credit: CBS)

She was not in the hospital — but this stuff is dangerous. Monday, she found out some important information any of us who’ve already had the flu should know.

Mom escorted her to the doctor — and yes, it was the flu, prompting a week of rest for her and her sweet little dog Blessie.

“This year is the worst flu season I’ve seen in nearly a decade,” Dr. David Hilden, an Internal Medicine physician at Hennepin County Medical Center said.

Like so many others, she has been through the Tamiflu regimen. But she still had some lingering concerns.

“My big question here is can I get the flu again?” Susan-Elizabeth said.

“Unfortunately you can get the flu twice in the same season, sorry,” Hilden said.

“The problem is there’s so many different strains of influenza. So that you could get influenza last month and it might be Influenza A. You’re all immune against that one and then next month you’re exposed to Influenza B, a whole different strain, you’re body’s never seen it so you can get sick a second time even in the same season.”

He says the deeply cold temperatures help the virus live. And it’s easy to catch it, whether it’s your first or second time around.

“Stay at least an arm’s reach away or more from people who are sick. And then what I tell people is just kind of good hygiene things, coughing into your own elbow as opposed to your hand,” Hilden said.

“I did not get the shot,” Susan-Elizabeth said. “Should I get the shot even though I’ve already had one case of the flu?”

“I would still recommend it for people because it’s probably much more effective against the other strains. We don’t know that for sure but probably. And so you could protect yourself from getting that awful illness a second time by getting your flu shot now,” Hilden said.

“I’ll do anything,” Susan-Elizabeth said.

Dr. Hilden says the most serious thing they are seeing, especially in high risk patients, is after they get the flu for the first time, about a week later, they’re coming down with pneumonia.

So even when you think you’ve conquered the flu, continue to rest because your respiratory system will be weakened for a while.

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