Feb 15, 2013 at 10:21 am
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - The frenzied pace of the flu in the state has started to decline, and experts at the St. Cloud Hospital say the peak season for the illness here has ended in kind.
The Minnesota Department of Health released their week 6 influenza report on Thursday, showing a marked drop in the number of flu-related deaths, hospitalizations and outbreaks.
St. Cloud Hospital's Infectious Disease Control Coordinator, Ellen Simonson, says those stats indicate the rate of infection in Minnesota has dropped from "widepsread" into the "regional" category - meaning there are reports of influenza-like illness in less than half of the regions in Minnesota.
"We aren't seeing the amount of strain on patients coming in to the Emergency Trauma Center," she says. "We're still seeing patients presenting those symptoms, but we're just not getting the volume we were."
At the peak of the flu season, St. Cloud Hospital saw a 25 percent increase in the number of emergency room visits - increasing from 165 patients to 225 daily, most of whom presenting influenza like symptoms. Simonson says, while they're not strained with numbers that high now, they're still treating flu patients daily.
"It's a struggle, but we always manage to meet those challenges," she says. "There are still cases, but if we wash our hands, cover coughs, stay home when we're sick - that's how we can protect ourselves and keep from spreading the illness to those who can't protect themselves.
Health officials say 9 flu deaths were confirmed during week 6. 72 people were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza last week, compared with 108 the week before.
So far this season, Minnesota has confirmed 2,703 influenza hospitalizations.
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