MANKATO (AP) — Urgent cares and emergency rooms in the Mankato area are being flooded by patients who have flu or flu-like symptoms.

The influx has prompted officials to ask people to call their doctor's office before heading to an urgent care or ER unless the symptoms appear life-threatening.

Spokesman Kevin Burns for Mayo Clinic Health System Mankato says just showing up could mean a long wait at an ER, where there will be many other patients.

Instead, Burns says in many cases, calling your doctor beforehand can resolve the problem.

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that influenza nationwide was at an epidemic level, with 22 states, including Minnesota, reporting a high incidence of flu cases.