Texas teen dies of flu complications in Minnesota - Fox 2 News Headlines

Texas teen dies of flu complications in Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -

Minnesota health officials say a teenager from Texas has died of complications of the flu.

Relatives say 17-year-old Max Schwolert and his family were spending the holidays with his grandparents in Amery, Wis., when he got sick on Christmas Eve. The teen died Saturday at a St. Paul hospital.

His uncle, Phil Schwolert, says his nephew apparently developed a staph infection along with the flu. The Star Tribune reports the teen was a senior at Marcus High School in suburban Dallas.

The state's Department of Health confirmed the teen died of flu complications.

According to department officials, there have been four confirmed flu-related deaths in the state so far. Victims included two men -- one in his 60s and another in his 80s -- and two elderly women.

The Minneapolis Children's hospital saw 120 cases of the flu last week, which is more than they had during the peak of the H1N1 pandemic three years ago. Other hospitals in the metro are filling up with flu patients too -- and some of those patients are fighting for their lives.

One of those patients is 14-year-old Carly Christensen, of St. Louis Park. She is currently in intensive care after coming down with a severe case of the flu despite being vaccinated in August.

"You should never assume you are not going to get the flu just because you've been vaccinated," warned Dr. Michael Osterholm, of the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.

Osterholm recently created a study focusing on the need for better flu vaccines because current flu shots are only effective about 59 percent of the time, and they work better when more people get them. Still, he estimates it could cost $1 billion to develop a more effective vaccine -- and that could be difficult in the current economic climate.

Health officials predict this could be one of the worst flu seasons in years in Minnesota, but Osterholm says he believes the numbers show a normal flu season is on the horizon, even if it did arrive a little early.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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