Severe Flu Season Continues to Impact the Northland

Essentia Health Reports a Steady Stream of Flu Related Hospitalizations

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DULUTH, Minn. – This year has been a worse than normal flu season across the country.

The Center for Disease Control says there have been more flu hospitalizations this winter than in any of the past six years.

According to Essentia Health Duluth, this is one of the most severe flu seasons we’ve had in quite a while.

Doctors there have seen a steady stream of flu-related hospitalizations all winter and the season isn’t over yet.

“Compared to previous years, every week we haven’t seen a lull in flu admissions,” said Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, M.D., an Infectious Disease Physician at Essentia Health Duluth.

A specific flu strain is to blame for making this year’s flu season especially bad.

“The H3N2 virus, which is circulating, typically gives you more severe flu symptoms, and that’s the one that’s circulating this year,” said Prabhu.

But even when the flu doesn’t send people to the hospital, it can impact some of their daily activities like working out or even going to church.

“We have a lot of kids so in the nursery a lot of hand washing, wiping down toys, and then instead of passing the peace or greeting one another, I ask people to bump elbows yesterday instead of touching,” said Kathryn Nelson, Lead Pastor at Peace United Church in Duluth.

The Peace United Church hasn’t seen attendance impacted by the flu season but church leaders have been reminding parishioners to use caution.

“I think the best thing people can do is if they are sick not come, so really encouraging people don’t come if you’re sick,” said Nelson.

At the Duluth Indoor Sports Center, staff members have been making sure to thoroughly clean every surface.

“We put hand sanitizer and stuff out for people and they use that and then we wipe down the machines every day,” said Samantha Gronski a front desk staff member there.

They’ve been asking customers to clean their own equipment too.

“If you’re using rackets, I would definitely clean them off or sanitize afterwards,” said Gronski.

Doctors say washing hands and avoiding contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth are effective but getting a flu shot is still the best way to prevent the flu.

“That’s one of the reasons that we also immunized our workforce this year, to help prevent flu among our colleagues and passing the flu to our patients,” said Prabhu.

The CDC tells us it’s never too late to get a flu shot and that shots can be effective even this late in the season.

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