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Rate of flu deaths spikes again, but hospitalizations drop dramatically

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The number of Minnesota flu deaths has spiked again, state health officials reported Thursday in their latest weekly influenza report.

Thirty-six people died the week ending Jan. 26, according to the report. That's up from just 15 the week prior, which had been a decrease from 33 flu deaths the week before that.

In all, there have been 112 flu deaths in the state this season.

However, officials said the flu season likely has peaked, MPR reported.

Officials offered these encouraging statistics: There were 135 hospitalizations in the week that ended Jan. 26, compared with 628 just three weeks before.

And there were 36 outbreaks reported at schools the week ending Jan. 26, compared to 112 the week prior. Eight outbreaks were reported at nursing homes, compared to 48 the week before.

Kris Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Health Department, told MPR that it's possible, but unlikely, the state could see a second peak in influenza activity, as it did during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.

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