Early flu season strikes in the Valley
Flu season is wreaking havoc nationwide, and the Valley is no exception.
Just last week, 117 cases were reported in North Dakota, half of them coming from Cass County.
In Minnesota, 48 people were hospitalized last week alone because of flu-related illnesses.
Health officials say it's the earliest start in almost two decades. It's a strain that affects mostly children.
"Flu season is always a bad time of year," child care provider Krisdeanna Clappers says. "Every year is so different, you never know what you're going to get."
This type of flu doesn't usually hit until March or April, but many daycares in the Valley say, it's here and worse than ever.
"Most parents do give their kids the flu shot," Clapper says. "Just being in a daycare, there is influenza and RSV that can go around."
The CDC estimates there have been as many as 2.5 million flu illnesses and 2,400 flu deaths nationwide. Doctors say, if you haven't been vaccinated, now's the time.
"Please, run, don't walk. Get your vaccine as quickly as possible because it takes one to two weeks for your body to make full protection," Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says.
Some experts say the early start could mean the season will be more severe, others say, it's too early to tell.
Also, officials say, it's possible the flu season could peak much earlier than normal.