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Published June 15, 2009, 01:54 PM

Minnesota child is state’s first swine flu death

The Minnesota Department of Health said the child died late last week after a brief hospitalization.

By: Martiga Lohn, Associated Press

ST. PAUL — A child from the Twin Cities area is the first person in Minnesota to die of swine flu, state health officials said today.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the child died late last week after a brief hospitalization. The agency said the child had underlying medical conditions and lab tests confirmed the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Spokesman Buddy Ferguson said the Health Department wouldn’t release the child’s age or other details.

State health officials have confirmed 274 swine flu cases in Minnesota, including the death.

U.S. health officials were tracking nearly 18,000 confirmed or probable swine flu cases in the country as of Friday, including 45 confirmed deaths. The World Health Organization’s global count approached 36,000 cases in 76 countries today, including 163 deaths.

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state epidemiologist, said most cases are mild but the illness can be grave for those with underlying health problems. That’s got health officials keeping close tabs on the situation.

“This flu is very widespread, and we expect to see many more cases across the state,” Lynfield said in a prepared statement.

Officials are urging people to take basic precautions, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and staying home when sick.

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