Flu cases setting records across Minnesota

Flu statistics
This year's flu season is setting records.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Health

The Minnesota Department of Health says this flu season is setting records.

On Monday, clinics across the state sent the agency's public health lab 289 specimens for flu testing — an all-time daily record, said epidemiologist Kris Ehresmann. The 315 school outbreaks from the previous week broke a record, too.

"When I think back to the most recent exceptionally severe flu season, that was 2012-2013, and what we're seeing this year is worse than that and occurring much earlier," she added.

New health department statistics released Wednesday show a decline in some influenza measures. But that's partly due to schools being out of session and incomplete surveillance data due to the holidays.

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Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota also set a record with more than 689 positive flu tests among its patients in December. That's nearly 200 more cases than its previous monthly high of 497 flu cases, set in January of 2013.

Patsy Stinchfield, director of infection control at Children's, says some of the sickest kids have been children under six months.

"Many of our children in the intensive care unit are too young to be vaccinated," said Stinchfield. "And it really brings home that point about all of us needing to be vaccinated because we can have our community immunity to prevent the spread to these little ones who are too young to be vaccinated."

The health department did not report any pediatric flu deaths for last week. Three children have died this season from the flu.