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60 Dead: Influenza Continues to Plague Minnesota

Nearly 1,900 Minnesotans have been hospitalized because of the flu.

The influenza outbreak of 2012-13 has now killed 60 Minnesotans and hospitalized 1,842, according to information released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The department’s second weekly report in 2013 on the flu outbreak more than doubles the number of reported deaths in the state; which totaled 27 last week.

The total number of deaths is now nearly as high as the outbreak of 2009-10, which killed 67 Minnesotans. The number of flu-related hospitalizations actually exceeds the total of 2009-10.

Northfield Hospital & Clinics has reported that they, too, have been seeing an influx of patients for the widespread outbreak of influenza. 

According to a Fox 9 news report, 88 percent of the deaths were patients age 65 or older, making up 53 of the 60 fatal cases this season. There were no deaths in the past week involving patients younger than 24.

The department’s latest report also showed that flu has struck a total of 107 skilled nursing facilities in the state, as well as 254 schools.

 

Dealing with the flu in Northfield

Betsy Gasior, LPN and site manager at Northfield Urgent Care, told Patch last week that NUC has seen double the patients as they normally do because of flu-like symptoms. Gasior said patients are sicker than usual, which requires more time to examine them, creating longer waits.

"In this busy influenza season, wait times to be seen by a provider have been as much as three hours," Gasior said. "Most days, patients can expect to be at our clinic for an hour to be seen and discharged."

This time last year, flu cases were lower in Minnesota than they are now, according to data on Google's Flu Trends. (Northfield-specific data is not available on Flu Trends, but flu cases in the Twin Cities metro are in line with the state as a whole.)

Overall in Minnesota, activity is categorized as "intense," while it was categorized as "low" at this time in 2012, according to Flu Trends.

"People should get their flu shot if they haven't yet," Gasior said. "It is not too late."

  • Find out where to get a flu shot

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Greenvale Park Elementary had three students from a single classroom absent and Northfield Middle School had more than 5-percent absence due to influenza-like illness,according to the school district.

Minnesota schools must report to the MDH when 5 percent of the total student enrollment in a building or when three or more children from the same elementary classroom are absent or sent home due to an influenza-like illness.

The district hasn't reported to the Health Department since because it hasn't had enough students absent with flu-like symptoms.

Community members are advised not to visit friends or relatives at the Northfield Hospital if you have a fever or a cough.

  1. Stay home when ill.
  2. Cover your cough
  3. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  4. Treat symptoms with over the counter medications.
  5. Only individuals at high risk of complications (over age 65, under age 2, or with chronic diseases)  should seek prescribed medication treatment such as antiviral (Tamiflu).

All healthy visitors are reminded to:

  1. Clean your hands after arriving and before departing;
  2. Use a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze;
  3. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following information:

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