Four flu-related deaths were confirmed in Minnesota last week, bringing the season’s death toll to 180, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday.

Statewide, the number of flu cases continued to taper off, with four schools and one nursing home reporting outbreaks.

Seven people were reported hospitalized with flu complications. Since October, 2,956 people have been hospitalized in Minnesota in what has been one of the harshest flu seasons in years.

Last year’s flu season claimed 33 lives and resulted in 552 hospitalizations in the state.

Flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, headache and extreme fatigue. They can come on quickly and incapacitate a patient for several days.

Most people recover from the flu without medical care, but the virus can cause serious respiratory problems, especially in patients who are frail or elderly.

Even though the influenza season appears to have peaked in January, state health officials say it is not too late to get a flu shot.

Maura Lerner