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Severe flu season claims 200 lives in Minnesota

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The Minnesota Department of Health said there were 201 flu-related deaths in the state during the 2012-13 season, the highest death toll in four years, the Pioneer Press reports.

The new number compares to 33 deaths in the 2011-12 season; 70 deaths in the 2010-11 season; and 67 deaths in the 2009-10 season.

The number of people hospitalized, more than 3,000, also climbed to the highest number in five years, MDH said in its final flu report of the season.

Although the numbers may appear out of the ordinary, Kris Ehresmann, the health department's director of infectious disease, tells the newspaper that Minnesota has lucked out with mild flu seasons in recent years.

"It was a strong reminder of what seasonal influenza can look like," Ehresmann said.

The most serious cases were among people age 65 and older.

Health officials continue to stress that the best way to prevent the spread of influenze is to get a flu shot.

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