As flu cases rise, health practitioners recommend prevention and testing

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More than 1,500 people across the state have tested positive for the flu and, according to state data, many of them are children.

As of Tuesday, nearly 800 children have contracted the flu. Of this number, more than 200 are under the age of 9.

The highest number of cases this season is seen among people between the ages of 10 and 19. Health officials here in Minot say the statewide figures are reflective of what they see at their clinics.

“We’re definitely seeing influenza in our community and with other respiratory illnesses around it’s hard to know if it’s influenza, covid, or some other respiratory illness,” said Lacey McNichols, a public health nurse at First District Health Unit.

RSV, the common cold, and the omicron variant of COVID-19 are a few of the respiratory illnesses that present flu-like symptoms. Making it harder for health officials to tell these illnesses apart without proper testing.

McNichols said “being tested is the only way to know for sure whether it’s influenza” as she reiterated an increase in flu cases.

Cases this season are nearly double what they were last flu season. COVID-19 prevention measures being relaxed is one of many reasons given for the increase.

“Last year we were still observing some precautions so I think we had a lot less illness and flu didn’t really come around last year but now that we’re without precautions we have more illness and it’s spiking rapidly,” said urgent care provider at Sanford Health, Dr. Eric Thompson.

In order to mitigate the spread of the flu, people must take preventive measures.

“If you’re sick cover the cough also to prevent it wash your hands and don’t touch your face in public because that’s where you’re going to get it,” Thompson said.

FDHU urges people to get vaccinated against the flu, stay hydrated, get tested and avoid crowds and gatherings.

For vaccination information on the flu as well as COVID-19 visit the FDHU website or the Department of Health website.

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