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Flu cases down for third straight week


Influenza cases in North Dakota declined for the third straight week, although flu is still widespread and there is a lot of the flu season left, according to Michelle Feist, program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health.

North Dakota reported 609 laboratory confirmed cases of flu during the week that ended Feb.

17. That is down from 673 cases the previous week and a peak of 816 cases the week ending Jan. 27.

Nationally, the number of flu cases declined for the first time last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It is likely widespread influenza activity will continue for some time,” wrote the North Dakota Department of Health in its weekly influenza update. “It is not too late to get vaccinated. Handwashing and staying home when you are sick are also important for reducing the spread of influenza.”

Feist said confirmed cases of influenza B have been increasing in the last few weeks.

“The increases are slight and it is not surpassing Type A,” she said. “But the proportion of Type B cases is increasing.”

People who have had influenza A are not necessarily immune to Type B, Feist said.

“They have the same symptoms,” she said. “You won’t know the difference without a lab test.”

Symptoms of flu include fever, coughing or sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and fatigue, according to the CDC.

Feist said influenza B commonly occurs later in the season. Type B influenza can become widespread causing a second spike in the number of flu cases occurring each week.

Feist said handwashing, covering coughs or sneezes and staying home from work or school when ill are among the best precautions to slow the spread of either type of influenza.

“You can still receive a vaccination,” Feist said, referring to the fact that most people receive their flu vaccinations early in the season. “We’re likely to see cases of flu through April or May of this year. There is still a lot of the flu season left.”

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