Minnesota Health Officials: 27 Flu Deaths This Season

Posted at: 01/10/2013 10:44 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A growing concern tonight as we learn more than two dozen people in Minnesota have now died from the flu, thousands of others hospitalized. As of Wednesday night, only 5 flu deaths had been made public. Thursday afternoon we learned the number had jumped to 27.

Besides those deaths, more than 1,100 people have been hospitalized statewide. The Minnesota Department of Health says of those hospitalizations, roughly 100 have been here in southeast Minnesota.

"I'm worried about him," said Connie Donner. She says she can't stop thinking about her son who's sick with the flu while away at college. "He went to the ER in Fargo and that's where they gave him IV fluids," said Donner.

He's battling a virus that has not only sent others to the hospital, but has been deadly in some cases. "The two current flavors of Influenza A are H1N1 and H3N2. H3N2 is the dominant Influenza A that is currently circulating in Minnesota," said state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield.

Which is why many are trying to get ahead of it by getting the flu shot. "This year I think we've averaged about 20 people every day. Today had been the highest day we've had this week. I think we've at least doubled that," said Walgreens Pharmacy Manager Joseph Brennan. "Information that we've been provided with, is saying that this is right on the money for the strains that are circulating at this time," he said.

However, the flu shot is no guarantee you won’t get sick. Just this week a 14 year-old girl died from the flu. She had gotten that shot. "The vaccine is not 100% effective but it is the best treatment preventative measure that we have," said Edward Ehlinger with the Minnesota Department of Health.
The first signs of the flu are a high fever with severe headaches and muscle pains. Day three, brings a sore throat, stuffy nose, and a dry cough. By day seven, an infected person is no longer contagious but symptoms of fatigue and coughing can last for weeks.

These are symptoms Connie's son has been dealing with. "I hope he's going to be ok. I mean, I'll drive up there if I need too," she said.

Of the more than 1,100 hospitalizations, 62% of the cases are of the elderly. Though not a guarantee, the CDC recommends that anyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine.