Minnesota reports 2nd flu death of season

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Two pediatric deaths from influenza have been reported this season.
Nikki Tundel / MPR News 2011

Updated 9:37 a.m. | Posted 6:13 a.m.

The Minnesota health department on Thursday said a second person under the age of 18 has died of influenza since the start of this year's flu season.

Officials would not provide any details, nor would they say if the child had any other health problems.

State infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann says pediatric flu deaths are very rare, but flu cases among kids are up sharply.

Through the end of last week, 203 new schools reported outbreaks, compared with 19 the previous week. That raised the number of Minnesota schools reporting outbreaks this season to 271.

Epidemiologist Brad Krier of the Minnesota Department of Health says they haven't seen that level of flu activity since the 2009 pandemic.

A K-12 school reports an outbreak to the state when 5 percent of students are out sick.

The department on Thursday also reported 60 hospitalized flu patients last week. That was down from 123 a week earlier, but raised the season total of hospitalized cases to 309. Several Minnesota hospitals have imposed restrictions on visitors to reduce the exposure of their patients and employees to influenza.

The CDC has said this year's vaccine is not well matched against the dominant flu strain that's circulating. But Ehresmann says it's still important to get a shot because the vaccine does protect against other strains of the virus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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