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Department of Health: South-central Minnesota hardest hit by flu

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The Minnesota Department of Health says that the south-central region of the state has been hit the hardest this flu season, according to the Mankato Free Press.

State numbers indicate that between Dec.23-29, Minnesota recorded 226 flu cases that required hospitalization -- 53 were in south-central part of the state.

The department said 578 have been hospitalized with the flu since the season began in October.

The Free Press reported that New Ulm Medical Center has implemented temporary visitor restrictions as a measure to protect at-risk patients and staff from the flu by asking any sick people to stay home instead visiting others in the hospital.

The St. Cloud Times reports that St. Cloud Hospital is doing the same by asking people with a fever or cough to not visit CentraCare Health System, as is the Sleepy Eye Medical Center, KEYC-TV reports.

Four people have died in Minnesota from the flu this flu season, including an 18-year-old man who was visiting from Texas.

The surge in flu cases this season has officials with the Minnesota Department of Health worried that the state could be in in for a severe flu season.

Health experts say people can protect themselves from the flu by getting vaccinated, washing your hands and staying home if you’re sick.

See more on this season's flu outbreak in KARE-TV's video below.

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