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Two more flu deaths reported in ND


BISMARCK -- Two more flu deaths have been reported in North Dakota, according to the North Dakota Department of Health's weekly flu update.

The deaths — bringing the total to 10 so far — occurred in the week ending on Jan. 13. North Dakota hospitals and hospitals nationwide are currently responding to a spike in flu hospitalizations.

There were 619 flu cases reported last week, according to data from the Health Department, bring the season's total up to 2,520. There have been 145 influenza-related hospitalizations.

The widely circulating flu strain, H3N2, can be detrimental to children and the elderly. An interim estimate of the vaccine's effectiveness against this strain in Australia, whose winter season starts in July, was only 10 percent. Health officials are predicting the vaccine will be about 30 percent effective this year.

Still, health officials recommend flu shots are the best protection. These vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older.