January 15, 2014

State reports widespread flu activity

By April Baumgarten

The flu has made North Dakotans sick early, and it could get worse, officials said.
“One thing that worries me is that if you look back at our last 10 years early seasons tend to be worse,” said Jill Barber, Influenza Surveillance coordinator for the Department of Health. “I can’t say that it will be worse but it is something I think about.”
Hospitals across the state have confirmed more than 840 cases of influenza as of Tuesday, almost all of them in the last month, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. Reports of the flu hit as early as October with approximately 50 cases to mid-December. That number shot up to more than 500 cases at the close of the year.
“In the last few weeks we have seen a dramatic increase in reported cases, and cases are being reported to us from providers across the state,” Baber said. “In addition, people with mild illness do not always go to a doctor and doctors do not always test for influenza, so we know this is only a portion of the total cases for North Dakota.”
Almost 40 people have been hospitalized from the flu in the state but no one has died, according to the department.


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