Six deaths related to flu outbreak in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota health officials say an outbreak of early flu strains has contributed to the deaths of six people.

There were 60 cases of flu-like illness reported to the state last week, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. That’s a five-fold increase from the week before.

The Department of Health says the flu continues to spread statewide, with cases reported in every region . It has hit children particularly hard, the Star Tribune reported.

“We use a threshold of 5% absenteeism, and we’re seeing much higher levels than that,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the department’s infectious disease division. Health officials say some schools are missing as many as one-fifth of their students.

They have a a higher than usual share of the 262 flu-related hospitalizations reported so far this season, although none of the deaths involved children.