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UPDATED: Minnesota Flu Deaths Now Total 127

Department of Health's latest numbers indicate worst of outbreak behind us.

Updated 11 a.m. Feb. 8:

Minnesota's 2013 flu outbreak is definitely on the wane.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported Thursday afternoon that influenza killed 15 more state residents during the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2--less than half the number of deaths reported the previous week. So far this season, a total of 127 Minnesotans have died of flu-related illness.

According to this report from the Star-Tribune, the vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations have occurred among the elderly.

Only 108 people were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza during the Jan. 27-Feb. 2 period. Three weeks ago, 476 people were hospitalized. The MDH reported that only one long-term care facility and 19 schools reported outbreaks of influenza during the week.

Since the start of the current flu season, 136 outbreaks of influenza have been reported in long-term care facilities, and there have been 434 outbreaks reported in schools.

Updated 6 p.m. Jan. 31:

Influenza killed 36 more Minnesotans last week, bringing the total number of state deaths in the current outbreak to 112.

But the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) weekly flu update, released this afternoon, also reported that the number of people across the state newly hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza dropped to 135, down from 208 the previous week and a big drop from the 476 hospitalized the week before.

A total of 2,367 Minnesotans have have been hospitalized since the current outbreak began.

According to a Minneapolis Public Radio report, officials now believe it's safe to say the outbreak is waning.

Kris Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at MDH, said it's unlikely the state could see a second peak in influenza activity, as it did during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.

"That is very unusual, so we're hoping that because we're seeing a slowdown in activity (now), that means that the activity will remain slow now until the end of the season."

Across the state, eight long-term care facilities and 36 schools reported outbreaks of influenza during the Jan. 20-26 period. Since the start of the season, there have been 134 outbreaks of influenza in long-term care facilities and 412 outbreaks in schools.

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Jan. 13

Influenza killed 15 more Minnesotans last week, bringing the total number of state deaths in the current outbreak to 75--more than the total number of state residents killed during the last big outbreak during 2009-10.

But the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) weekly flu update, released Thursday afternoon, also contained good news: Only 208 people across the state were newly hospitalized last week with laboratory-confirmed influenza, a big drop from the 476 hospitalized the previous week.

Health Department spokesman Doug Schultz told WCCO that it will be another week before officials know for sure where the flu season has peaked in Minnesota. But he added that trends are pointing in that direction.

For example, there were only nine confirmed outbreaks in long-term care facilities last week; there were more than 50 the week before.

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