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Better news in latest flu report

Terri Hyduke of the Children's Physician Network says that calls to the Minnesota FluLine are returned by nurses in a matter of minutes. When it opened a month ago, waits of up to 13 hours were reported. Photo by Don Davis, St. Paul Capitol Bureau.

By Don Davis

St. Paul Capitol Bureau

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's H1N1 flu outbreak continues to ease, the state Health Department reported Wednesday.

However, more Minnesotans with flu-like illnesses went to the doctor last week and five H1N1-related deaths were confirmed, bringing the state total to 26 since the outbreak began in April. Two other deaths are suspected to be swine flu related, but have not been confirmed.

Just nine schools reported H1N1 swine flu outbreaks last week, down from 40 two weeks ago, 137 three weeks ago and 288 four weeks ago. Five outbreaks were reported in the Twin Cities, with single school outbreaks in four rural counties, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas and Le Sueur.

H1N1 is more likely to affect school-age youths, so school outbreaks often are used as indications of how widespread the illness is.

Two nursing home outbreaks were reported.

Since April, 1,699 people have been hospitalized with H1N1. Most people with symptoms are not tested until they are admitted to a hospital.

Seventy-eight Minnesotans were hospitalized with the flu last week, with by far most of them in the Twin Cities area.

As of today, 825,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine have been ordered for 760 clinics around the state. Most vaccine has been used on young people and pregnant women.