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Flu Season is Worst in a Decade

Posted at: 01/02/2013 6:29 PM
Updated at: 01/03/2013 12:34 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- More than 120 Minnesotans were hospitalized in one week, because of the flu.  Now health officials are warning this may be the worst flu outbreak in a decade.

Doctors are saying this particular strain of flu that is going around this year is not your typical bug. With busy emergency rooms and more than 50 Minnesota schools reporting wide spread outbreaks, it may be even more important this year to take precautions.

Mayo Clinic's  Dr. Greg Poland says this year’s strain can be downright deadly.

"This can be a lethal virus, I mean we loose on average about 36,000 Americans each year."

Officials at Olmsted Medical Center say last year at this time they averaged almost three people per day reporting flu like illnesses and this year that number has nearly doubled to five people per day. Luckily this year’s vaccine should cover it.

"A really important point is that this particular influenza virus is h3n2 and it is in the vaccine, so there's a good match between what's in the vaccine and what's circulating," said Dr. Poland.

Age doesn't matter, everyone is advised to get their flu shot.

"It's the most deadly strain of flu viruses or the most virulent," said Dr. Poland.

Along with getting vaccinated people can avoid the flu by maintaining healthy living habits, like getting the right amount of sleep, eating well, and avoiding those that are sick.

Dr. Poland warns that people need to take the flu seriously.

"People tend to call an illness in the winter the flu and they minimize how important it is, this is a distinct disease caused by distinct virus called influenza it can be a deadly disease," said Dr. Poland.

It takes about two weeks for the protection from the flu vaccine to kick in. Doctors expect this uptick in cases to last another six weeks.