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Nasty Flu Season Start Outpaces H1N1 Outbreak

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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CBS Minnesota (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSMinnesota.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSMinnesota.com/Health

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) – A 14-year-old St. Louis Park girl is fighting for her life as she battles the flu and its complications.

Carly Christenson had gotten sick coming home after basketball practice before Christmas. And she had already gotten the flu shot.

Children’s Hospitals and Clinic is reporting that last week they saw more flu patients than they saw during the worst week of the H1N1 outbreak three years ago.

Figures from the Minnesota Department of Health say that since the start of the outbreak, nearly 600 have been hospitalized and four people have died.

Part of the problem is this particular strain of Type A flu. It is the H3N2 strain and health care workers say it is making people far sicker than other types of influenza.

Christenson has now developed a serious staph infection, and is hospitalized at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

“We had one of the doctors tell us point blank that our kid is the sickest kid in the state right now,” said mother Sandy Christenson.

RN Patsy Stinchfield, the Director of Infectious Disease at Children’s, says the fact that Christenson got so sick even after getting the vaccine should not keep people from getting vaccinated.

“The vaccine is not perfect,” Stinchfield said. “It’s 60 to 70 percent effective. But if all of us in the community raise our immunity with an imperfect vaccine, we will have a less chance of influenza getting in. So it’s even more of a reason to get vaccinated.”

Joshan King, 7, suffers from cerebral palsy and also got the flu, despite getting the vaccine.

His mother rushed him to Children’s Emergency Room on Christmas Day.

“The flu? I did not know it could get that bad,” mother Shana King said.

After more than a week in intensive care, he’s getting better.

“This is by far the worst I have ever seen him — he was pretty sick and it was scary,” she said.

What has health care providers so concerned is that this is the third week of the flu outbreak and normally the flu season lasts 16 weeks.

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