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State confirms two more H1N1 deaths

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The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed two more deaths linked to H1N1 flu, raising the state's total to 12 since spring. 

Officials said Wednesday that the deaths included an adult from south-central Minnesota who had no underlying health conditions, and an adolescent from the Twin Cities area who did have other health problems. 

The adult from south-central Minnesota is believed to be hospital administrator Mike Milbrath, 54, and the adolescent is believed to be Oliver Finley, 11, of Hastings, who had cerebral palsy. Health officials did not confirm either death because of privacy concerns. 

Milbrath, administrator of the Waseca Medical Center, died Saturday at Immanuel St. Joseph's Hospital in Mankato after being diagnosed with the H1N1 flu virus. 

Nancy Finley told the St. Paul Pioneer Press her son died Oct. 17 after an H1N1 flu infection led to a fatal case of pneumonia.

Buddy Ferguson, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, said officials expected to see additional deaths from H1N1, which is now widespread in Minnesota. 

"Influenza of any kind is a serious illness, and people sometimes tend to underestimate the extent to which that's true," Ferguson said.

Also Wednesday, health officials reported that 288 schools reported excess absences last week, compared to 230 the previous week.