Karen Fountain of Steele County Public Health was a guest on AM 1390's Talk of the Town. Health officials have said that there are indications that we may be facing a potentially severe flu season. As of January 6, the Minnesota Department of health reported more than 1,700 flu-related hospitalizations along with 55 outbreaks of influenza-like illness in long-term care facilities and 43 outbreaks in schools. The  state had their first confirmed child death from the flu last week.

Even though the vaccine appears to be not as effective as in past flu seasons, getting a shot can help reduce the severity and could mean the difference between being hospitalized or not. Flu shots are available at the Steele County Public Health in Owatonna between 8-4PM weekdays. There will be a clinic with extended hours on Thursday, January 18 running from 8-5:30PM.

Fountain also pointed out that there have been a number of whooping cough cases in the area this winter as well. Symptoms start out like a cold and evolves into a heavy cough with a whooping sound. Should you feel you're beginning to display symptoms of whooping cough, you're urged to see your family medical professional. Treatment for you and even your immediate family members with antibiotics may be advised.