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      Cases of the flu increase in Michigan

      The Michigan Department of Community Health is asking residents to get their flu shots. This comes after an increase in flu-reported cases.

      Experts say it's now widespread throughout the U.S.

      Health officials say compared to previous years, we are six to seven weeks ahead of schedule. They say the State of Michigan saw a drastic jump in flu cases between the end of November and December, and it's continuing to spread.

      All it takes is a small pinch and you are on your way to protecting yourself from contracting Influenza.

      The flu is a respiratory illness. If not treated, it could lead to death.

      According to the Michigan Department of Health, two kids have died from it in the last week. So they are urging everyone to get vaccinated.

      "It's anywhere from 60 to 80 percent, and so some people can look at it, well, it fails 20 to 40 percent of the time and that may be true but actually is more effective than not. That's why we need herd immunity; so the more people that are immunized, the less likely it can be communicated from one person to the next," said Kevin Piggott, Marquette General Hospital, Medical Director of Community Health.

      For those concerned about getting the flu from the vaccine, officials say it's an inactive virus which means it won't give you the flu.

      Flu-like symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, and headaches.

      According to the Centers of Disease Control, this vaccine will protect you against 90 percent of the flu strains circulating the U.S.

      This year there's a new strain that's predominately hitting many people across the nation, the H3N2. Experts say it's worse than other strains.

      "Ten years ago when it was the predominant strain, it hit our elderly and those at risk really hard. So it tends to make them sicker than in the past, requiring more hospitalizations and deaths," said Fred Benzi, Marquette County Health Officer.

      Those at a higher risk of contracting the virus are kids and the elderly, but health officials strongly urge everyone, no matter the age, to get vaccinated.

      Marquette General Hospital is also asking people who do feel sick to not visit any patients.??