The weekly number of flu cases declined for the first time this season, according to a weekly influenza snapshot from the North Dakota Department of Health.

The number of cases reported for the week ending Feb. 3 was 748, compared to 816 cases the week prior. However, the Department of Health reported it's too soon to tell if the season is peaking.

There have been 20 flu-related deaths so far in North Dakota and 196 hospitalizations. Nationwide, influenza-related hospital visits have been increasing, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said overall hospitalizations this season are at the highest it has ever seen.

This year's dominant flu virus is H3N2. So far, there have been 4,937 reported flu cases in North Dakota. There have also been 26 influenza-like illness outbreaks in long-term, assisted, basic care and group home settings. Additionally, the Department of Health received reports of three outbreaks in schools and three outbreaks in child care settings.

Public health officials still recommend individuals get vaccinated this late in the season. Wash hands frequently and staying home if sick.

For more information on flu cases in North Dakota, visit www.ndflu.com.

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