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Eagan High School Nurse: Flu Strain This Year Unusually Severe

Flu cases at Eagan High School peaked last Friday, when roughly 1 percent of the school population was absent or dismissed because of the sickness.

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Eagan High School has certainly felt the effects of the flu epidemic, according to licensed school nurse Kathleen Hook.

Flu cases at the high school peaked last Friday, Hook said, when roughly 1 percent of the student population at the high school was either absent or dismissed from attendance because of the flu. To put that into perspective, the Minnesota Department of Health considers it statistically significant when 5 percent of a school's student population is absent from the flu, Hook said.

While the number of flu cases has declined considerably since the peak, many of the cases Hook has seen over the past several weeks have been unusually hard-hitting.

"I would say this is a pretty severe strain," Hook said. "I see people who are sicker, the fevers were higher and I’m seeing a higher rate of complications."

A handful of students have contracted pneumonia as a complication of the flu, and several students have been hospitalized, Hook said.

The high school is encouraging students to stay at home until they are fully recovered. School officials, she added, are working with families so that students aren't penalized for missing so many days of schoolwork.

“I’m really relieved to say I think say we’re on a true down slope," Hook said.

Statewide, however, the influenza outbreak of 2012-13 has now killed 60 Minnesotans and hospitalized 1,842, according to information released today by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The department’s second weekly report on the flu outbreak more than doubles the number of reported deaths in the state; which totaled 27 last week.

The total number of deaths is now nearly as high as that of the outbreak in 2009-10, which killed 67 Minnesotans. The number of flu-related hospitalizations actually exceeds the total of 2009-10.

According to a Fox 9 news report, 88 percent of the deaths were patients age 65 or older, making up 53 of the 60 fatal cases this season. There were no deaths in the past week involving patients younger than 24.

The department’s latest report also showed that flu has struck a total of 107 skilled nursing facilities in the state, as well as 254 schools.

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