Minnesota may be entering its peak weeks for influenza.
Public health officials say flu cases are now being reported in every geographic region of the state. In their weekly influenza activity report, the Minnesota Department of Health officials said clinic visits for influenza-like illnesses nearly tripled last week, and 71 people were hospitalized for flu complications.
Health Department epidemiologist Karen Martin said flu is definitely on the upswing.
"We would expect hospitalizations to continue to increase and once kids get back to school after winter break we expect to see more outbreaks of influenza-like illness in schools, and probably some in long-term care facilities as well," she said.
So far this season, the H1N1 virus is the most identified flu strain. During the 2009 flu pandemic, it was especially hard on young people.
Martin said there haven't been any pediatric deaths from flu yet, but it is too early to tell how mild or severe the season will be.
"There are flu deaths and there are flu hospitalizations every year," she said. "If people are taking the normal precautions that they would take, such as getting vaccinated, washing their hands, staying home when they're sick, that's the best they can do for protection for flu and other respiratory diseases."
The Minnesota Department of Health is not tracking flu deaths among adults this year because of funding cuts.