Health Dept: Flu Outbreak is 'Normal'

Updated: 01/11/2013 7:51 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson

The Minnesota Department of Health says the state is in the midst of a severe influenza outbreak. According to the agency, Minnesota hospitals have reported more than 1,000 hospitalizations due to influenza like illness as well as 27 deaths.

"It is important to keep it in perspective that this is something that we anticipate happening every year," Edward Ehlinger of the Minnesota Department of Health said.

Out of all the folks in the hospital, 62 percent of them are over the age of 65, while 15 percent are under the age of 25.

The health department says the Metro and the South Central are the hardest hit areas in the state.

"The two current flavors of Influenza A or H1N1 and H3N2, H3N2 is the dominant Influenza A that is currently circulating in Minnesota," Ruth Lynfield, the State Epidemiologist said.

The sheer number of people getting the flu is stressing our health care system. Hospitals are changing staff patterns, opening up new areas to care for patients, sharing supplies and even transferring patients if necessary.

"The vaccine is not 100 percent effective but it is the best treatment preventive measure that we have," Ehlinger said.

The health department says they are more surprised over the last couple of mild years. They say the situation right now is the typical pattern they would normally see with seasonal flu.