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H1N1 claims three more in Minnesota

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H1N1 claims three more in Minnesota

Post by North Star 1 on October 23rd 2009, 9:32 am

All of the new victims had underlying health complications, and though the virus has spread statewide, its severity hasn't increased.

By BOB VON STERNBERG, Star Tribune
Last update: October 22, 2009 - 9:28 PM

Three more Minnesotans have died from complications of the H1N1 flu, bringing to 10 the number of state residents who have succumbed to the novel virus.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday the deaths involved a Martin County woman in her early 60s, a child from Steele County and a child from Freeborn County, both of whom were under age 7.

All died within the last two weeks and all had underlying health conditions, according to the department. So far, all but two of the Minnesota deaths involved patients with pre-existing health problems.

To date, the department said it has received reports of 611 hospitalizations caused by the virus, also known as swine flu.

In addition, officials from 230 schools statewide reported flu outbreaks (meaning that either 5 percent of their student body was absent or three students in an elementary school classroom were out as a result of flu-like illness). The total was 215 schools last week, so it appears the spread of the disease has slowed somewhat.

No long-term care facilities reported outbreaks in the past week, officials said.

Even though the pandemic has become widespread across Minnesota, the severity of the disease hasn't increased, said state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield. "We're still in an accelerated phase," she said. "We're hearing about illnesses all over the state ... We may not have even peaked yet."

But Lynfield said this disease is nowhere near as severe as the deadly 1918 worldwide flu pandemic.

She repeated the department's basic advice: "Stay home if you're sick."

Although vaccine for the H1N1 strain still isn't available for the general public, it is being provided to health care workers and some high-risk pediatric patients and pregnant women.

After those Minnesotans are vaccinated, priority will be given to children and adults under 25 years, and those under 65 who have certain pre-existing medical conditions.

About 210,000 doses have arrived in Minnesota or are on the way, Lynfield said.

Meanwhile, a day after the department opened its toll-free flu hot line -- 1-866-259-4655 -- it was at times on Thursday virtually impossible to reach the nurses staffing it.

Callers repeatedly encountered a busy signal or no answer. Several tries were necessary to reach a nurse.

"It was very successful -- more so than we expected," said Assistant Health Commissioner Craig Acomb. "We got very heavy demand and that kind of volume has caused people to wait. We're asking people to be patient."

The "Minnesota FluLine" was launched at 11 a.m. Wednesday. By 8 a.m. Thursday the department reported that it had received more than 2,100 calls.

"We were expecting far, far less than that," Acomb said.

Acomb said the department will add staff members to the hot line operation.

Acomb said news reports that some people were waiting 13 hours for a nurse to call them back were "anecdotal" and said that once the initial surge in calls eases, people can expect to wait no more than six hours for a return call.

Lynfield, the state epidemiologist, characterized the first-day problems as "hiccups." "There was a great hunger in the state for something like this," she said. "There may be some bumps along the way, but we're learning as we go."

The hot line was created to get quick advice to anxious residents and take pressure off busy clinics and hospitals as the state faces twin outbreaks of H1N1 flu and seasonal flu.

The hot line, which opens with a recorded message giving basic flu information, will triage people needing health advice and, in some cases, prescribe medicine over the phone.

The phone network, with 50 lines staffed by nurses, is operating around the clock.
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Re: H1N1 claims three more in Minnesota

Post by bluegill on October 23rd 2009, 10:26 am

WOW!~! That's sad!~!
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Re: H1N1 claims three more in Minnesota

Post by North Star 1 on October 23rd 2009, 10:30 am

It's scary to because you don't have to have any underline ailments and you are at a high risk, there is a flue that is going around here also and let me tell ya what it scares the hell out of you also because you just don't know and it has all the same symptoms as the H1N1 we have had it here already so it's early. affraid
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Re: H1N1 claims three more in Minnesota

Post by bluegill on October 23rd 2009, 10:32 am

yep yep! Jamie woke up sick this morning, so hopefully he isn't getting it..... I guess Time will tell.....
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