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Influenza activity downgraded to local; deaths continue to be confirmed

The Minnesota Department of Health today announced that that influenza activity in the state has been downgraded to "local," as reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The reclassification reflects the fact that influenza activity is now occurring primarily in the northwestern region of the state, although flu activity continues to be reported across the rest of Minnesota.

There were no school outbreaks reported for the week and the proportion of patients visiting doctors' offices with influenza-like illness was less than one percent in those sites that reported patient visits to MDH.

There continue to be cases of H1N1 novel influenza in Minnesota. There were 21 hospitalizations due to influenza in the past week; 18 were confirmed as H1N1.

Although influenza activity is down, the department has confirmed 10 more influenza-related deaths in Minnesota residents. One of the deaths was due to seasonal influenza type B and occurred in a child who had underlying health conditions. The death is the first in a child associated with influenza B for the 2009-10 season. The death occurred at the end of October.

There have been three influenza B cases identified by MDH and an additional case reported since Sept. 1 in hospitalized patients with influenza. There have been no seasonal influenza type A viruses confirmed by MDH this fall.

Of the other nine deaths, seven were due to H1N1, two were due to influenza A (subtype unspecified). The deaths occurred between Oct. 27 and Nov. 19. Those who died ranged in age from a child less than 9 years to an adult in their 90s. All but two of the 10 newly reported deaths occurred in people known to have underlying health conditions.

These latest deaths due to H1N1 bring the total number of influenza deaths to 45 since April, including 39 confirmed as H1N1 novel influenza.

Health officials noted that these are deaths for which the department completed its investigation this week and that MDH continues to investigate possible H1N1 and other influenza-related deaths on an ongoing basis. Information about deaths and other H1N1-related information is posted regularly to the MDH Web site at

Because there is continuing activity, health officials recommend that Minnesotans continue to take all the important precautions to protect themselves and others from influenza: Stay home if you are sick, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. If you are in a priority group for vaccination, get vaccinated against H1N1 as soon as possible. Go to for more information.

Priority groups for H1N1 vaccination include:

Pregnant women

People who live with or care for children under the age of six months

Health care workers and emergency personnel

All children, adolescents and young adults aged six months through 24 years

People aged 25 to 64 who are at risk of complications because of an underlying medical or immune system condition, including:

• some kinds of conditions that may interfere with breathing

• chronic lung disease

• chronic cardiovascular disease (except high blood pressure)

• chronic kidney disease

• chronic liver disease

• chronic metabolic conditions or conditions involving the blood or blood-forming organs (including diabetes)

• suppressed immune systems (due to medical treatment or infection)