St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Influenza is being blamed for the deaths of several more children in Minnesota.

The weekly update on flu activity from the Minnesota Department of Health indicates the state has received 3 more reports of flu-related pediatric deaths, raising the total since the start of the season to four. Last year, the season ended with only 2 pediatric deaths and the total previous year was 3, while 10 children died as a result of flu-related complications during the 2014-2015 flu season.

Overall flu activity in Minnesota continued to be rated as “widespread” for an 8th straight week even though there was another sharp decline in the number of flu-related hospitalizations. The preliminary total for the week that ended February 10 was 255, which is down considerably from the total of almost 400 the previous week and the peak of over 650 in early January. Since the start of the season, almost 4300 people have been hospitalized after contracting influenza.

The State Health Department says it received 108 reports of flu outbreaks in Minnesota schools and at 12 from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Both numbers are up slightly from the previous week.

Two other key indicators of flu activity are the percentage of people who visit outpatient clinics seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms and the percentage of samples submitted for testing produce positive results for influenza. Both of those figures were nearly steady last week with the health department reporting a slight increase in the visits to outpatient clinics and a slight decrease in positive test results.

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