Frostbite Cases Mount During Extreme Cold Snap

Updated: 01/07/2014 7:34 AM
Created: 01/07/2014 7:16 AM
By: Jennie Olson

Schools canceled classes for a second day as dangerous arctic air kept an icy grip on Minnesota where at least one hospital saw a record number of frostbite cases.
At Regions Hospital in St. Paul, 14 people were treated for frostbite and eight patients suffered from hypothermia in the last two days. Hospital officials say all eight intensive care beds in the burn unit were filled with people suffering from frostbite.
Dr. George Edmonson tells the Pioneer Press that in past years the hospital has handled a handful of severe frostbite cases, but this year there's already been a dozen. Edmonson says that's a record-breaking number.

Doctors are now using drugs to remove clots in blood as a way to treat frostbite and save fingers and toes. Once the skin is warmed and blood flow resumes, the damaged cells can often swell and clot, stopping the blood again. The drugs keep the blood flowing, and if they’re given to patients quickly enough, doctors say the chances of amputation go down as much as 80 percent.
Temperatures dipped to 26 below zero in Ely and in International Falls in northern Minnesota early Tuesday. Forecasters expect some relief Wednesday when the mercury could climb above zero to the south.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

File Photo
Photo: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

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