People tend to think of common diseases in non-threatening terms. "I caught a bug... just a touch of the flu - I'll be all right."
The influenza season should be taken seriously, however. Nearly 600 people have been hospitalized with influenza in Minnesota since the start of the flu season, and five have died - the latest a 14-year-old girl, Carly Christenson, who died on Tuesday from complications of the flu. She is the second teenager to fall victim. Max Schwolert, a 17-year-old from Texas who was visiting relatives in Wisconsin came down with the flu over Christmas and died in a St. Paul hospital. These deaths are unusual - the flu usually hits small children, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses the the hardest. But even young people can succumb.
This year the flu has hit earlier than usual. It usually peaks in February, so we have a lot of flu season left.
We would again urge people who have not had a flu shot to get one, especially those who are around young children or older people, or those who are in the most vulnerable categories. Flu shots are not 100 percent effective for everyone, but they are the best protection available.