Children's in the News, Mighty Blog

Influenza sees record highs at Children’s Minnesota

Experts now consider the flu to be widespread in the U.S. and Minnesota, and it appears to be hitting kids harder. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the number of flu-like outbreaks in schools spiked last month.

“Our last week of December, we saw the most admissions for influenza in any week since we’ve been studying this for 10 years and the most number of positives in children,” said Patsy Stinchfield, nurse practitioner and senior director of infection control at Children’s Minnesota, in an interview with WCCO.

Children’s Minnesota saw 325 lab-confirmed influenza cases during the last week of December 2019, which is cause for concern because Children’s typically sees about 100 of these cases each week. To accompany this record high number of influenza cases, we also saw more flu-related hospitalizations during this period. Normally, 10-15 children are admitted to our hospitals in a week, but the last week of December saw 28 new hospitalizations for the illness.

Influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. It affects all age groups, though kids tend to get it more often than adults. In the United States, flu season runs from October to May, with most cases happening between late December and early March.

By Dec. 28, 2019, MDH reported 505 total hospitalizations due to influenza cases and 299 school outbreaks for influenza-like illnesses.

“Those school outbreaks that get posted from the health department, are influenza-like illnesses. … They’re not tested positive for the flu, but the guess is a lot of them do have influenza but there’s a lot of other viruses circulating this time of year too,” said Patsy.

The overall message is: “There is still lots of flu around. Everyone should still get their flu vaccine.”

Watch Patsy Stinchfield talk with WCCO about the flu update.

Alexandra Rothstein