Health officials say it's not too late to get vaccinated as influenza swings toward peak season.
Lexi Burns walked into the MinuteClinic in New Hope on Wednesday morning with a 100-degree fever.
The 11-year-old missed two days of school this week for what her mom suspected was strep throat, but when they dropped into the clinic on Bass Lake Road, a nurse practitioner said Lexi had influenza.
This is the first year her kids didn't get flu shots, Katie Burns said. "That'll teach us," she said. "It's the yuck season."
It was the first positive flu test of the day, but MinuteClinic has seen more patients with flu-like symptoms over the past couple of weeks. "Our clinics are bursting at the seams," said MinuteClinic District Director Candy Kiebel, who estimated that 20 to 30 percent of recent patients have had flu symptoms. "It's pretty widespread."
That's exactly the term the U.S. Centers for Disease Control assigned to Minnesota last week as flu swung toward its peak season.
The state's own flu report showed that more than a dozen schools reported flu outbreaks during the week that ended Feb. 5, and 36 people were hospitalized. Since the last week of December, three flu-related deaths have been recorded, but none among children. A fresh set of flu statistics, for the week ending Feb. 12, will be released Friday.
Karen Martin, influenza surveillance coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health, said the state is likely to reach its flu peak in the next month. Unlike last year, when the H1N1 pandemic swept the nation, the bug's progress has remained "typical" this year, she said.
Martin said it's not too late to get vaccinated. People with flu symptoms should stay home, and everyone should cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and wash their hands often.
Several varieties of influenza are circulating this season, which is also typical, she said. Last year's H1N1 has turned up occasionally, but it has "burned through the population so people are immune enough," Martin said. Instead there's a new dominant strain.
"It changes enough every year so you're never totally free from it," Martin said.
Taryn Wobbema is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.