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Published December 15, 2010, 12:00 AM

Flu season activity in area light so far

This year’s influenza season is getting off to a slow start compared to last year’s swine flu epidemic.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

This year’s influenza season is getting off to a slow start compared to last year’s swine flu epidemic.

So far, North Dakota health officials have confirmed 11 cases of the flu, three in Cass County, with two requiring hospitalization.

Minnesota also reports light flu activity, with one outbreak of flu-like illness in an undisclosed school district and two hospitalizations.

In last year’s H1N1 outbreak, by contrast, North Dakota had more than 3,200 cases at the peak in


“Last year it was a significantly different story,” said Michelle Feist, influenza surveillance director for the North Dakota Department of Health. “By this time last year we were past our peak.”

Still, public health officials warn, flu season in North Dakota and Minnesota typically peaks in February or March.

Activity usually picks up in late December or January.

Although flu hasn’t been in the headlines so far this year, the slow start means people still have time to get vaccinated.

New recommendations now call for all people ages 6 months and older to get a flu shot.

Although some years have seen shortages of flu vaccine, public health officials in Cass and Clay counties say plenty of vaccine is available.

Desi Fleming, director of nursing at Fargo Cass Public Health, said the flu can cause serious illness and even death, especially among the elderly. Even people in normal health can become seriously ill from the flu.

“It’s a very easy fix to get vaccinated,” she said.

A flu shot costs $33, and flu mist $36 at Fargo Cass Public Health. Flu shots also are available at Clay County Public Health for $33.

Shots also are available at private clinics and many pharmacies.

Children ages 6 months to 8 years who haven’t previously had a flu shot should get two doses.

“Before the holidays is a good time to be thinking about it,” said Cathy Anderson, director of nursing at Clay County Public Health. “People will be moving around.”

Flu shots

Flu shots are available at private clinics, many pharmacies and public health clinics. To avoid a wait, call ahead to Fargo Cass Public Health at (701) 241-1360 or Clay County Public Health at (218) 299-5220.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522