Influenza remains active, seems to be slowingDuring the week that ended Saturday, 33 flu deaths were reported in Minnesota, bringing the total for the season to 60, the Health Department reported in its weekly flu summary.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The flu bug continues to bite Minnesota hard.
“Minnesota continues to experience vigorous, widespread influenza activity, with high levels of hospitalizations and deaths reported,” the state Department of Health said in a news release Thursday.
During the week that ended Saturday, 33 flu deaths were reported in Minnesota, bringing the total for the season to 60, the Health Department reported in its weekly flu summary. Another 476 people were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, bringing the total to 1,842.
That means the 2012-13 flu season has caused the most hospitalizations in Minnesota of the past five seasons. During the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-10, 1,824 people were hospitalized in the state, the Health Department said. In 2008-09, 285 were admitted to Minnesota hospitals with flu.
In Wisconsin, 1,360 people had been hospitalized with the flu as of Jan. 5, the most recent report available.
The rate of flu reports seems to be slowing somewhat, the Health Department said, although it will take a couple of more weeks of data to confirm that.
A similar decrease seems to be showing up at Essentia Health’s Duluth hospitals. As of Thursday, four people were hospitalized with confirmed flu cases and another seven with influenza-like illnesses, Essentia spokeswoman Kim Kaiser said. The numbers at the same time last week were 12 confirmed cases and eight flulike illnesses.
Two more people have died of flu-related illnesses at Essentia’s Duluth hospitals, bringing the total to nine, Kaiser said. All nine were adults with underlying conditions and most were elderly, she said.
At least one person has died of flu at St. Luke’s hospital. The hospital won’t be providing further updates on flu numbers, spokeswoman Louise Ernewein said earlier this week.
Influenza kills thousands of people, although the numbers vary significantly from year to year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the past 30 years, as few as 3,000 and as many as 49,000 people have died in the U.S. because of the flu.
Concern about this year’s vigorous flu strain has prompted a late wave of people seeking flu vaccinations. At walk-in clinics offered Jan. 11 and Saturday at Essentia Health Duluth Clinic, almost 1,000 people got flu shots, Kaiser said. Another clinic was offered on Thursday and one more today, with hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the lobby of the clinic’s First Street Building, 402 E. First St. No appointments are necessary.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported flu outbreaks in 92 schools in the week ending Saturday and outbreaks in 46 long-term care facilities. Outbreaks occurred in two schools in both Cook and Lake counties and one in Carlton County, but none occurred in St. Louis County. Among long-term care facilities, three occurred in St. Louis County and one in Lake County, according to Health Department data.