Sanford Health physician not concerned with ND having high flu activity

NORTH DAKOTA (KVRR) – The Centers For Disease Control names North Dakota one of four states with high flu activity.

“That’s not surprising because of our remoteness and population density. Typically all these epidemics peak later for us,” Sanford Health Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Avish Nagpal said.

Dr. Nagpal believes COVID protocols could have made flu infections peak earlier.

The North Dakota Department of Health reports 553 new flu cases, 25 hospitalizations and one death for the week ending January 17. The department says nearly 14 percent of children statewide were absent from school because of the flu.

The spread could also be high because of vaccine hesitancy.

“If the rest of the country is trending down, which is is with influenza, we should trend down very, very quickly,” Nagpal said.

Doctors aren’t worried about another spike in flu infections.

“It’s not concerning. The concerning thing during influenza annual epidemics is that we should be able to maintain capacity which includes our E.R. capacity, walk-in clinic capacity, hospital capacity. Luckily this season’s influenza vaccination has been a good match which has led to relatively low hospitalizations as compared to the number of cases as compared to previous years,” Nagpal said.

Like with many things surrounding viruses, it’s hard to say when the flu season could be over.

“Sometimes we have had influenza season extend all the way to April, but the last two years we have peaked somewhere in December, early January,” Nagpal said.

The best way to prevent getting sick is to get a flu shot. Click here to find out where to get one.