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2,000 Minnesota children to be part of national flu test; Bemidji will be one testing site

Some 2,000 Minnesota children will be part a federal effort to test kids for exposure to a serious disease that was once nearly wiped out.

Medical centers in Rochester, St. Cloud, Bemidji and Twin Cities will do throat swabs to screen kids ages 4 months to 5 years for Haemophilus influenza type B, also known as Hib.

Parents of children who test positive can choose to give them antibiotics to stop the disease's spread to unvaccinated children.

Hib would be wiped out if all children were fully vaccinated. But a vaccine shortage and some parents' choice to avoid vaccines has created a population of Hib-infected carriers who spread it without showing symptoms. Health officials want to know how big that population is.

Five Minnesota children became sick with the disease last year -- and one died.