Minnesota reports 1st child death of flu season

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Updated: 4:55 p.m.

Minnesota health officials on Thursday reported the first child death of the flu season.

For privacy reasons, the state is not releasing details about the case, including the child's age, or any underlying conditions.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health's weekly influenza and respiratory illness report, a total of 31 people in the state have died of the flu so far this season. A total of 95 people including one child died of the flu in Minnesota last season.

Health Department senior epidemiologist Karen Martin said the most prevalent form of the virus circulating this season is one that's been hitting younger people particularly hard.

"So far the dominant strain has been an influenza B strain. That hasn't happened nationally since the 1992 to 1993 influenza season," Martin said.

The number of people hospitalized due to the flu has topped 1,200 this season, with 187 hospitalizations reported last week.

With schools back in session after the holiday break, flu outbreaks in Minnesota schools continue to pick up, with 113 new school outbreaks reported last week compared with 32 new school outbreaks the previous week.

"While our school outbreaks are quite high, looking at the other end of the age spectrum, we've had relatively few outbreaks in long-term care facilities," Martin said.

Confirmed outbreaks of flu in Minnesota long-term care facilities include four new outbreaks recorded last week for a total of 25 outbreaks so far this season.

The Health Department says influenza continues to be widespread across Minnesota.