Even as flu outbreak in Minnesota slows, more deaths are reported

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 7, 2013 - 7:44 PM

Worst season in years continues to send dozens to Minnesota hospitals

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Nathan Hausladen, 9, has his vision shielded by his father, Joe, as he received a flu shot from nurse Patty Menk during a flu shot clinic at Aquila Elementary School in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The flu season continued its slowdown in Minnesota last week, with the number of outbreaks at schools and nursing homes falling for the second week in a row, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Thursday.

However, another 15 deaths were confirmed last week, and 108 people were hospitalized with complications of the flu. The vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations have occurred among the elderly, health officials say.

In the week ending Feb. 2, the number of school outbreaks fell to 19, down from 36 the week before. There was an even more dramatic drop among nursing home residents: One outbreak was reported last week, down from eight the week before.

This year's flu season, one of the worst in years, apparently hit its peak in mid January and has been on the downswing since, according to health department statistics. So far, 127 people have died in Minnesota from flu or its complications this season, up from 33 last year.

Supplies of flu vaccine are still available throughout the state, according to Kris Ehresmann, head of infectious disease at the Health Department. Last week, the agency set up an online exchange to help clinics that have run low on vaccine to obtain it from others with surpluses.

The Health Department does not track all flu cases, but issues weekly updates on deaths, hospitalizations and reported outbreaks in nursing homes and schools.

MAURA LERNER

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