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The flu is now widespread in North Dakota, state health officials announced on Friday.

The North Dakota Department of Health has confirmed 1,810 cases of the flu so far this season, according to a weekly influenza report.

Flu activity continues to increase in the state, as well as across the country. As of Jan. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated between 9.8 million and 11.4 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the influenza.

There have been five flu-related deaths in North Dakota so far this season, according to the state Department of Health's weekly report.

During last flu season, there were 185 pediatric deaths in the U.S. caused by the flu, with about 80 percent of these deaths occurring in children who had not received the flu vaccine, according to the CDC. State health officials estimate only 44 percent of children in North Dakota between 6 months to 4 years of age are currently vaccinated.

The health department recommends those who have not had their flu vaccine get one as soon as possible, as it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide full protection.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter