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Flu numbers decreasing across ND, but it’s not over yet

BISMARCK -- While flu cases continue to trend downward across North Dakota since January, health officials say the flu season isn’t over quite yet.

According to the latest weekly influenza update put out by the North Dakota Department of Health, there were 324 cases reported the week of March 3, bringing the total number of cases for the 2017-18 flu season to 7,067. At the same time last year there were 4,888 flu cases reported.

Michelle Feist, with NDDoH Division of Disease Control, said the total number of cases for the 2016-17 flu season was 7,507. She said it can sometimes be difficult to compare numbers season-to-season because there are differences in testing practices and influenza strains. However, she said she “would not be surprised” if this year’s season surpasses last year’s.

Feist said it is likely that the influenza season peaked at the end of January. She added that  influenza B activity is increasing, with more than half of the reported influenza cases for the week ending March 3 being influenza B. An increase in influenza B is typical for this part of the season, Feist said.

The department reported so far this season 308 pneumonia-related deaths and 20 flu-related deaths. There have been no pediatric flu-related deaths this season reported to the NDDoH.

There have also been 249 influenza-related hospitalizations reported for the 2017-18 season.