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2nd child dies of flu in Minnesota this season

Feb 21, 2020 07:03AM ● By Editor
Medical assistant Lim Ros prepares to administer a flu vaccine at Central Pediatrics in St. Paul in October 2011. Minnesota reported the second child death of flu season on Thursday.
Photo: Nikki Tundel | MPR News 2011

By Nancy Lebens of Minnesota Public Radio News - February 20, 2020

Minnesota health officials say a second person under the age of 18 has died of the flu this season.

Health Department senior epidemiologist Karen Martin said Minnesota's two deaths come at a time when the influenza season is at its peak.

"We do see deaths every year in both children who have underlying health conditions and approximately half of those have no underlying health conditions, so previously healthy individuals,” Martin said. 

Minnesota’s cases are part of larger, troubling picture. The CDC reports that 92 children have died of flu nationwide.

"And that's higher for this point in the season than any other season since we started doing surveillance except for the 2009-2010 pandemic,” Martin said. “So, it's fair to say this season has been especially bad so far for children.”

There’s still time for children and adults to get vaccinated against flu, with many weeks, if not months to go. Martin said the vaccines available now are 45 percent effective, reducing flu visits to doctor’s offices by about half. Martin says that efficacy is within the range of a good match against the strains currently occurring. 

Minnesota does not track how many children are vaccinated against flu, but nationally 75 percent of the deaths are in young people who have not been vaccinated.

Throughout the season in Minnesota, schools have seen outbreaks, with 60 reported last week, and 762 overall. Type B hit earlier in the season, Martin said, but Type A now accounts for more of the cases among all age groups. 

Outbreaks in long-term care facility and among the elderly have not happened as much, with 51 outbreaks so far, owing to the different strains that are prevalent from year to year. 

A total of 58 people have died in Minnesota so far this season. 

Health officials say it’s best for everyone to stay home when flu-like illnesses strike to keep from infecting others.

    To read the original article and see related health reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.
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