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Minnesota flu-related fatalities now 4

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Minnesota has had four deaths related to the fast-spreading flu, state health officials say.

In its latest flu data report, the Minnesota Department of Health said there were two flu-related deaths during the week of Dec. 23-29.

The department also reported that 578 people have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza this season.

Officials earlier this week confirmed that one of the flu-related deaths in Minnesota was that of a healthy Texas teen who had been visiting the Midwest for Christmas.

This ultimately could be the worst flu season in years, MPR reported.

The current flu season began faster and has been more severe start than the relatively mild flu seasons that started in 2008, 2010 and 2011, the Pioneer Press noted. (Comparisons with 2009 are more difficult because the nation was also dealing with a pandemic flu bug that year, the newspaper noted.)

KARE 11 reports that experts say the best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated, wash your hands and stay home if you're sick.

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