Southern Minn. leads state in flu cases

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Southern Minnesota has become a "hot spot" for the flu this season with more reported cases than any other part of the state, the Mankato Free Press reports.

Health officials say there are about 19 cases of the flu per 100,000 residents. The metro area is not far behind with 12 cases of the flu per 100,000 residents, KARE 11 says, and that number is expected to grow.

A spokesman for Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato says they are prepared to set up mass vaccinations for people that need the flu shot. The procedure is similar to those used during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 where thousands were vaccinated in just a few days.

To prevent the virus from spreading further, all 15 hospitals in the 11-county area are implementing tougher rules for visitors.

Winona Health is limiting visitation for immediate family members and asking visitors with with flu-like symptoms to wear masks. About one out of every three patients at Winona Health's hospital and clinics have tested positive for the flu, the Winona Daily News reports.

Roughly 900 people have been hospitalized statewide since flu season began in October. Other than getting the flu shot, officials say hand washing and staying home when feeling sick are the best practices to limit the flu from spreading.

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