Influenza Surveillance Protocol and Frequently Asked Questions for Minnesota Schools
Note: This protocol REPLACES all previous influenza reporting protocols for schools.
School health professionals should report suspected outbreaks of influenza-like-illness (ILI)* to MDH when:
- FOR ALL SCHOOLS (INCLUDING ELEMENTARY): The number of students with ILI who are absent or sent home reaches 5% of the total school enrollment on a given day (e.g., a school of 600 students should report when 5% of their total enrollment (30 students) with ILI are absent or sent home or 600 x .05 = 30)
- FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS ONLY: Three or more students with ILI from the same classroom absent or sent home on a given day.
- Report one time per outbreak when either of the above thresholds is met throughout the year.
- Do not report subsequent days of the same outbreak.
- If symptoms of illness are unknown for an absent student, include this student in your count of ILI absences.
* ILI is defined as fever ≥100.0°F and cough or sore throat (in the absence of a known disease other than influenza).
School health professionals should use the Minnesota School-based Influenza-like Illness Report Form (PDF: 22KB/1 page) to report ILI to MDH via the following means:
- Fax this information to 651-201-5501 (preferred)
- Call 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414
- If the fax listed above is busy, fax to 651-215-9033
Schools are encouraged to report this information to MDH as soon as possible during business hours.
Data on outbreaks of ILI in schools will be posted on the Minnesota Weekly Influenza Activity website. Schools will not be mentioned by name; rather, counts of outbreaks by county will be displayed.
Thank you to Minnesota school health professionals for your work in reporting influenza-like illness (ILI) to the Minnesota Department of Health. Because of your partnership, we are able to understand the ILI activity level occurring in schools. We would like to emphasize that the goals are to understand overall activity level and geographic spread - not to count every case of ILI absence. We have had many questions from you and we would like to clarify a few things. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.
Once a school has reported that one of the two thresholds had been met, does that school report again if or when it reaches the other threshold?
No, we are asking that you report only the first time that you reach either of the two thresholds. Report only on whichever threshold you reach first. Once you have reported for your school, you do not need to report again. So, for example, if you are an elementary school that reported a classroom with three students absent with ILI, you do not report again if your whole school reaches the 5% of total enrollment absent with ILI.
Once a school has reported that one elementary classroom has three students absent with ILI, does that school report again for a different classroom that has three students out?
No, we are asking that you report only the first classroom with three or more absent with ILI. If there are more classrooms involved after this first report, you may want to notify parents and staff again, but you do not need to report this to us.
What if a school reaches 5% absent with ILI and then absences due to ILI decrease for a few days but are back up to 5% a week later?
A general guideline for schools should be to wait until absences due to ILI have decreased to usual numbers for a few weeks before reporting again. If you numbers fluctuate a bit from day-to-day, we do not consider those as separate outbreaks.