MDH reports spike in flu, RSV hospitalizations

Respiratory viruses continue to circulate around the state, and more people are ending up in hospitals because of it, state health officials say.

The Minnesota Department of Health posted its weekly update on Thursday, reporting a continued climb in hospitalizations from respiratory illnesses in the seven-county metro area.

While MDH says hospitalizations from COVID-19 and influenza are continuing to climb, the data shows the biggest increase in hospitalizations in the past week involved cases related to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). MDH says RSV hospitalization rates “increased substantially” last week, jumping to 3.7 per 100,000 people from 2.4 the week before.

The influenza hospitalization rate jumped last week to 1.1 per 100,000 from 0.4 the week before, also a big increase, although the rate still remains far below other illnesses. The COVID hospitalization rate actually dropped to 4.2 per 100,000 from 6.2 the week prior.

Molecular lab testing results painted a similar picture, showing around 600 positive RSV tests last week — at least 30% higher than any other week this season. The only school outbreak reported last week was also due to RSV, according to MDH’s data.

As for the flu, 53 hospitalizations were reported last week, up from 29 the week prior. Only one other week has even reached 30 flu-related hospitalizations this season. MDH is also now reporting three flu-related deaths, with the median age of those victims being 71.

The good news is Minnesota is still seeing “minimal” flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports the worst activity in the southern U.S. and California. Minnesota’s bordering states are also seeing more flu activity, although it’s still considered minimal in South Dakota, “low” in Wisconsin, “moderate” in Iowa and inching close to “high” in North Dakota.