State reports surge in flu outbreaks in schools

The number of Minnesota schools reporting outbreaks of flu-like illness increased significantly during the past week.

The state Health department says 215 schools reported flu outbreaks during the week that ended last Saturday, an increase of 90 schools compared to the previous week.

Schools have to report absences to the state Health Department when they involve 5 percent or more of their student population or at least three illnesses in the same elementary classroom.

The Health Department says the number of people hospitalized with confirmed cases of influenza has also increased, and influenza-like illness visits to outpatient clinics remain elevated.

So far there have been no influenza outbreaks reported in long-term care facilities.

By the end of this week some pediatric clinics will receive their first shipment of H1N1 vaccine. The department is urging doctors to give those doses to medically fragile children first.

As of Oct. 10, 685 people had been hospitalized in Minnesota with confirmed cases of H1N1 flu and seven died.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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