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Published On: Fri, Jan 18th, 2013

Minnesota: Influenza ‘widespread’ in state, 60 deaths confirmed

Public domain image/Perry-Castañeda Library

Public domain image/Perry-Castañeda Library

Minnesota health officials are describing the current flu season as “vigorous” and “widespread” as influenza activity is the highest since the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic season, according to a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) news release Thursday.

MDH numbers reveal 1,842 hospitalizations due to influenza-like illness and has confirmed 60 deaths due to influenza or complications from influenza, as of Jan. 12. This is more hospitalizations than seen in the 2009-2010 “swine flu” season, which had 1,824 hospitalizations to date.

This year is a huge increase compared to other recent years–285 hospitalizations in all of 2008-2009, 965 in ’10-’11 and 552 in ’11-12, according to health department numbers.

Health officials suggest that because the predominant strain this season is H3N2, this is why the cases have skyrocketed as compared to previous years.

In years in which H3N2 is the predominant strain, we typically see more severe cases of illness, particularly in the very young and the elderly, and more cases overall.

Areas of the state hit hardest by influenza this year are the south central, central and metro areas.

The MDH still encourages people to get vaccinated. Vaccines are still available from the Minnesota Vaccines for Children (MnVFC) program for those with federal (Medicaid) insurance and vaccine distributors still have vaccine for sale for those that are privately insured.

Most clinics still have vaccine; however, this is a very fluid and rapidly changing situation.

It is very important that people in “high-risk” groups (the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions) get vaccinated.

The antivirals, Tamiflu and Relenza, are still available, although the Food and Drug Administration has reported intermittent shortages of pediatric suspension.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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