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Flu activity is becoming widespread in region, state

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WILLMAR — Influenza activity has been rising across Minnesota and is now widespread, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday.

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According to preliminary new figures released Thursday, 71 influenza-related hospitalizations were reported during the week that ended Dec. 28.

Local flu activity has been increasing since the week before Christmas, said Jo DeBruycker, manager of the Health Learning Center at Affiliated Community Medical Centers, which is one of several flu surveillance sites for the state Health Department.

“Once we got around the holiday time, we really saw it. We began to say, ‘We’re in influenza season,’” DeBruycker said.

During the most recent week, Dec. 22 to 28, ACMC tested 94 patients who came in with flu-like illnesses. Eighteen of them, or about one in five, tested positive for influenza, DeBruycker said.

Most were young or middle-aged adults and most were unvaccinated, she said.

All of the cases involved an A strain of the influenza virus, the type that has been appearing most commonly in Minnesota this season.

Health officials are braced to see more spread of the flu now that the holidays are over and school is back in session. The state Health Department reported no school outbreaks of flu during the last week of December but six the week before.

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Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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