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Six deaths related to flu outbreak in Minnesota

ST. PAUL — Minnesota health officials said an outbreak of early flu strains has contributed to the deaths of six people.

There were 60 cases of flu-like illness reported to the state last week, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. That’s a five-fold increase from the week before.

The Department of Health said the flu continues to spread statewide, with cases reported in every region. It has hit children particularly hard.

“We use a threshold of 5% absenteeism, and we’re seeing much higher levels than that,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the department’s infectious disease division. Health officials say some schools are missing as many as one-fifth of their students.

They have a a higher than usual share of the 262 flu-related hospitalizations reported so far this season, although none of the deaths involved children.