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Flu cases surge in Minnesota

Officials at the Minnesota Department of Health are tracking what appears to be a significant increase in influenza-like illness across the state.

Based on reports of increased influenza-like illness in schools and at sentinel reporting sites, flu activity in Minnesota is now classified as widespread, the state Health Department said today.

Flu outbreaks have been reported at more than 30 schools across the state.

Not all of these influenza-like illnesses are the H1N1 novel flu virus; some are probably seasonal flu. State health officials believe the new strain of flu that first appeared last spring is likely playing a significant role in the upsurge, however.

"Novel H1N1 has continued to cause illness in Minnesota all through the summer, and we have been anticipating a possible second wave of this illness. We strongly suspect that may be starting to happen now," said Dr. Sanne Magnan, Minnesota Commissioner of Health.

To date, 272 laboratory-confirmed cases of novel H1N1 have been reported in Minnesota. The testing has been concentrated among cases in which the patient died or was sick enough to require hospitalization.