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Associated Press, Published October 18 2010

2 elderly Minnesota women die of flu complications

ST. PAUL (AP) — State health officials are urging care providers to get vaccinated for influenza following the flu-related deaths of two elderly women in long-term care facilities.

The Minnesota Department of Health says a woman in her 80s from southeastern Minnesota died last week from complications of the H3 strain of flu virus. Earlier this month, another woman in her 80s from the Twin Cities area died after contracting the same strain.

Health department spokesman Doug Schultz says the deaths are the first two flu-related fatalities of the season.

State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield says it could be a difficult year for severe influenza infections in the elderly. Lynfield says in years when H3 influenza A has circulating, there have been higher rates of serious illness, particularly in the elderly.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.