Two More Deaths in Children Attributed to Influenza

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The Minnesota Department of Health today announced that two additional Minnesota children with influenza have died. The deaths, together with that of an 8-year-old Ramsey County boy last week, bring Minnesota's total to three.

The additional deaths occurred in another 8-year-old and a 17-month-old. One of the additional cases resided in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and one in greater Minnesota. All three children became ill between Jan. 18 and Feb. 1 and subsequently died. None of the children who died had been vaccinated for influenza; all three had the influenza A (H1) strain of the virus.

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"We are deeply saddened by these deaths and our sympathies go out to the families of these children," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach. "While these deaths do not necessarily suggest that there is anything unusual about this season's flu, they serve to underscore that influenza always has the potential to be a very serious illness, even a killer." she said. "The best way to protect against influenza is through vaccination. It's not too late."

Although influenza is a serious illness, flu-related deaths are uncommon in children, according to Kristen Ehresmann, section chief for immunizations for MDH. Most flu deaths occur in older people, or people with underlying medical conditions. But unfortunately, children do sometimes die of the flu.

The number of pediatric flu deaths in Minnesota can vary from one season to the next. Some years, there may be several flu deaths in children. In other years, there may be none at all. Nationwide, there has not been an uncommonly high number of flu deaths in children. So far this year, 13 children have died of the flu, including Minnesot's three.

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