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Flu 'widespread' in Minnesota as 3rd pediatric death reported

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A third Minnesotan under the age of 18 has died as a result of flu-related illness, the state's Department of Health said in its weekly influenza report.

According to the Star Tribune, a health official said it was a child, not an infant, who died.

The child, MPR reports, had other health conditions that may have contributed.

Influenza in Minnesota is still classified as widespread by the department.

There were just five hospitalizations for the week through Dec. 20 – down significantly from 119 the week prior. To date, 380 Minnesotans have gone to the hospital due to influenza.

A week ago, the state reported its second pediatric death of the season.

The state's infectious disease director, Kris Ehresmann, told MPR influenza levels peak in late January or early February – so to see what we have gotten so far is unusual.

You can find a clinic offering the flu vaccine using this website.

Schools still suffering

In a continuing trend from last week's report, schools are still being devastated by the virus. A total of 281 new school outbreaks were reported this past week – just shy of the record of 288 set in 2009, the Star Tribune says.

That brings the total number of school outbreaks this season to 543.

An outbreak is reported at a school when one of two thresholds is met: 1) 5 percent of enrolled students are absent because of the flu-like illness; or 2) Three or more students in the same elementary school classroom are out with flu-like illness.

Twin Cities, southeast hardest hit

Regionally, the Twin Cities accounts for 56 percent of all hospitalizations so far; southeast Minnesota accounts for 19 percent.

The northwest area of the state hasn't recorded a single hospitalization due to the flu, and the west-central region has had just eight – accounting for 2 percent of the statewide total.

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