Minn. Teen's Flu-Related Death is Second in 10 Days

Updated: 01/10/2013 7:16 AM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

The flu-related death of a 14-year-old St. Louis Park girl is the second such death involving an otherwise healthy teen in the last 10 days in Minnesota.

Despite your best efforts, doctors say this year's flu outbreak is the fastest they've seen the virus spread in decades.

"This flu season we're seeing more kids than we did during the H1N1 pandemic.  In fact, it's the biggest influenza season that I can remember in my career here at Children's," said Nurse Practitioner Patsy Stinchfield.  She's going on her 25th year at Children's.

And we're spreading it before we even know we have it.

"You can be contagious and give the flu to somebody else for up to a day before you even have any symptoms," said Dr. Peter Bornstein, Health East's Director of Infectious Disease.

14-year-old Carly Christensen is the most recent death reported in the state.  She contracted Strep Throat while sick with the flu.

"Especially we see this in younger patients - they'll get the flu, and then they'll get a secondary infection," said Dr. Bornstein.  "It might be strep, it might be staph, it might be something else and that's often what kills an otherwise healthy person."

"Another bacteria, another virus, a co-infections together can overwhelm the immune system," said Stinchfield.

But there aren't shots to guard against Strep Throat.  There's no vaccine for a staph infection.  And those infections spread just as quickly as the flu.

Doctors warn if you've had flu-like symptoms for more than two days, you're in danger of having a secondary infection and need to see a doctor right away.