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North Dakota flu deaths rise to 14

FARGO - The number of confirmed deaths in North Dakota caused by influenza spiked to 14 amid signs the peak season could be poised to taper. The North Dakota Department of Health reported the deaths Friday, double the seven deaths reported the pr...

 

FARGO – The number of confirmed deaths in North Dakota caused by influenza spiked to 14 amid signs the peak season could be poised to taper.

The North Dakota Department of Health reported the deaths Friday, double the seven deaths reported the previous week, although some of the newly reported deaths occurred earlier, an official said.

“Because it’s been a worse year than normal, I would expect to see more deaths,” said Jill Baber, influenza surveillance coordinator for the Health Department.

Ten flu deaths were reported in the two previous years, although Baber suspects flu deaths two years ago were underreported.

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So far this flu season, 3,523 lab-confirmed cases have been reported to state health officials, with 141 reported hospital admissions. Burleigh County has the most reported cases with 714, followed by Cass County with 457.

“We’ve already exceeded the average,” Baber said, characterizing this year’s flu outbreak as falling on “the high side of normal.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this year’s flu vaccine is effective against 23 percent of cases requiring medical attention, a figure much lower than typical.

All of North Dakota’s flu deaths so far have been among the elderly. No pediatric deaths have been reported.

“We’re probably on the down side of the peak,” Baber said, noting North Dakota is now in about the fifth week of high influenza activity. A typical peak season lasts about five weeks, but cases can be reported for months.

In Minnesota, four reported pediatric flu deaths and 1,285 hospital admissions for influenza have been reported, according to the latest figures.

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