Health officials are calling this year's flu season "early," with 223 lab confirmed cases of influenza already recorded.
Jill Baber is an epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health. She says most of this fall's flu cases have centered around Benson and Ramsey counties, but it's now showing up in other counties statewide. She says children are being affected the most, with 89 of those confirmed cases being identified in kids under the age of ten.
"So far, the 2009 A H1N1 pandemic strain has been predominating; that might change, but it might not, and that's one reason why we're seeing a lot of cases in children. The H1N1 strains tend to really affect children more than the do older adults - which is good for older adults, but not good for the kids."
Baber says along with the H1N1-2009 strain circulating, three other strains have been identified in North Dakota. She says this means it's still important to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others from contracting the flu. She says there has been one death from the flu so far this year - an elderly patient from northeastern North Dakota. Baber says along with vaccination, staying home when sick, frequent hand washing and covering your cough or sneeze can help prevent the spread of influenza.