New Mexico health officials have confirmed the first five flu deaths of this season.
The cases involve a 91-year-old woman and a 94-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County, a 67-year-old woman from Bernalillo County, a 57-year-old woman from Lea County and a 56-year-old man from Chaves County.
The providers and laboratories that report flu cases to the state Department of Health on a weekly basis say nearly 5 percent of patient visits last week were for flu-like illnesses.
Health officials say the percentage of these illnesses has fallen for two consecutive weeks, but state epidemiologist Michael Landen notes that flu season started early and rates of hospitalizations are higher than in recent years.
Landen is urging people to get vaccinated, especially children younger than 2 years and adults over 50.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.