Flu Season is in Full Swing

By KBJR News 1

December 29, 2012 Updated Dec 29, 2012 at 8:45 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The flu season is upon us and is shaping up to be the worst one in a decade.

Sneezing, coughing, aches, pains... symptoms most of us know all too well.

The Center for Disease Control is predicting this will be the worst flu season we have seen in the past decade, not including the pandemic in 2009.

According to the Minnesota Department of health, 123 people have been hospitalized and 16 pediatric deaths have occurred in the last week due to influenza.

However, more and more people are going to the doctor for flu like symptoms.

"The threshold considered by the CDC to all it an epidemic is 2.2 % and right now 4.2% of visits to urgent care or emergency departments and physicians like offices are for influenza like illness," said Dr. Linda Van Etta an infectious diseases specialist at St. Luke's in Dulth.

She says influenza always starts in the southern part of the country and works its way north.

Right now we are mid flu season, but that doesn't mean it's too late to get a flu shot.

"It's just important to get out there and get the flu shot, why run the risk of getting sick when you can avoid it with just a simple two minute shot and your out the door," said Dan Tomaszewski a pharmacist with Walgrees.

Getting the flu shot is one way to combat the flu, but there is another simple way.

"Hand washing. Hand washing is absolutely the way to prevent from getting influenza or an oral virus or anything else," said Dr. Van Etta.

A simple step to keep yourself and others around you healthy this flu season.

Officials at St. Luke's say they're seeing about a 40 percent positive rate for influenza screens.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.