New data released by the Minnesota Department of Health clearly shows that the state is experiencing a very severe flu season, with significant numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Although the numbers of hospitalizations reported rivals the 2009 pandemic, there is no evidence of a new influenza virus circulating and state health officials stressed that the profile of the disease outbreak is very much in keeping with other very severe seasonal influenza years.
To date, Minnesota hospitals have reported 1,121 hospitalizations due to influenza-like illness. For the week ending Jan. 5 alone, there were 401 hospitalizations, similar to a peak week in the 2009-10 pandemic. MDH has confirmed a total so far of 27 deaths due to influenza or influenza-related complications. In addition, there were 28 outbreaks in long-term care facilities over the past week.
“We are clearly at a high level of influenza activity in the state,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger. “But it’s important to keep this year in perspective: What is occurring has happened before. This is what influenza looks like, this is what it can do. That’s why we stress every year the importance of prevention measures, such as getting a flu shot, covering your cough, washing your hands and staying home if you are ill. We never know at the beginning of a flu season what it’s going to look like.”
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