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Spike in flu cases worries state health department

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A surge in the number of Minnesotans hospitalized with the the flu late last month has state health officials fearing that the state may be in store for "severe" flu season, the Star Tribune reports.

The Minnesota Department of Health says 123 Minnesotans were hospitalized with the flu the week ending Dec. 22 -- doubling the amount from the previous week and equaling one-third of the total number of cases this year.

In addition, the director of Infectious Diseases with the Minnesota Department of Health says the number of cases confirmed by lab test surged the same week.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minn., has seen an uptick in emergency and urgent care admissions in the past few days -- from an average of 117 people a day to as many as 195 -- and about one-quarter of them have tested positive for the flu.

Despite the surge in cases, Fairview Lakes president Dr. Brent Asplin told MPR that its "not too late to get your flu vaccine."

The state has confirmed two flu-related deaths in Minnesota through Dec. 28.

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