ST. PAUL (AP) - State officials say the flu is now widespread in Minnesota after a slow start to the season.

The weekly influenza update issued Thursday by the state showed a jump in flu-like illnesses at clinics and hospitals and specimens testing positive for the flu.

The "widespread" designation is used when at least half of Minnesota's reporting districts report outbreaks, and that the flu becomes widespread nearly every season.

Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Karen Martin says this year's flu season remains mild compared with other years. She says the number of cases reported at schools and nursing homes remains low.

Health officials say this season isn't unusual compared with other years when the flu peaked in late winter.