ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Department of Health says flu is now widespread in Minnesota, a sign that this year's influenza season will be harsher than most.

Reports say influenza has been detected in four of the eight reporting districts in the state.

Officials say 65 people were hospitalized for suspected influenza infections in the week ending December 6th - the highest total for the first week of December in the past six flu seasons.

More than 185 people have been hospitalized so far this season.

The state Health Department has reported one pediatric death related to the flu.

Health officials are encouraging people to get flu shots, despite reports that the vaccine is less effective this year and poorly matched to the dominant strains in circulation.