The Minnesota Department of Health has reported a child’s death from the flu, a first in the state during a relatively mild season.
“We were of the belief that there would be no [child’s] death this season. Unfortunately, there is one,” said Doug Schultz, a Department of Health spokesman. “We hope this is the last one.”
The child’s death was revealed in the state’s Influenza & Respiratory Activity Report for the week ending April 6. It did not identify the child or the location of his or her death.
Officials have said the flu strain circulating in Minnesota is weaker in the 2018-2019 season than what the state witnessed in 2017-2018, when one of the worst flu outbreaks resulted in 435 deaths, including five children.
Since October, the flu has claimed the lives of 69 adults in the state.
The number of Minnesotans who have been hospitalized has dropped compared to last season. More than 6,400 Minnesotans were hospitalized during the 2017-2018 season. This season, there have been 2,261 hospitalizations since October.
“This season, the flu had a slow start and then it reached a peak,” Schultz said. “The good news is that it is mild as compared to last year.”
A significant difference, officials said, is that H1, a weaker virus than H3, is in the air.
“Unlike other parts of the country, we did not get the H3 strain. That one is severe, specifically for the elderly,” Schultz said.
But the virus did cause some concern in January when the Wabasso School District canceled classes for a couple of days to contain the sickness affecting 20% of its students.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report for April 6 says the flu “continues to decrease but remains elevated in the United States.”
In Minnesota, more than half the cases reported this season are from the Twin Cities region. There were 52 hospitalizations in the region for the week ending April 6.