Child’s flu death brings sea­son’s toll to 52 in state

The 4-year-old from River­side County was oth­er­wise healthy and didn’t re­ceive vac­cine.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Soumya Kar­la­mangla

A 4-year-old child in River­side County has died of the flu, bring­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s death toll from in­fluenza so far this sea­son to 52.

The child, whose name has not been re­leased by of­fi­cials, had no un­der­ly­ing health is­sues and had not been vac­ci­nated against the flu, said River­side County pub­lic health of­fi­cer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

“This is a tragic re­minder that the flu can still kill, and that chil­dren are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to the ill­ness,” Kaiser said in a state­ment. “Get your flu shot and get pro­tected.”

The child, who lived in the south­west part of the county, died out­side the county. Lo­cal of­fi­cials were no­ti­fied this month.

Of­fi­cials say that the strain of in­fluenza go­ing around this year — H1N1 — tends to be most dan­ger­ous for chil­dren and preg­nant women.

Na­tion­wide, 16 chil­dren have died from the flu this sea­son, U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The flu sea­son runs from Oc­to­ber through May and typ­i­cally peaks in Fe­bru­ary. Flu cases in Cal­i­for­nia ap­pear to be in­creas­ing in Jan­uary, sug­gest­ing the sea­son has not yet reached its height.

Of­fi­cials en­cour­age ev­ery­one over the age of 6 months to get vac­ci­nated. The vac­cine takes about two weeks to take ef­fect.

Last year’s flu sea­son killed 185 chil­dren na­tion­wide, 80% of whom were not vac­ci­nated, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

The flu shot re­duces a preg­nant woman’s chance of catch­ing the flu by 40% and pro­vides im­mu­nity for her

baby, ex­perts say. Peo­ple who re­ceive the shot and still catch the flu typ­i­cally have less se­vere symp­toms.

Over­all, this year’s flu sea­son is ex­pected to be less se­vere than last year’s, when the deadly H3N2 strain was the most preva­lent across the coun­try. Then, so many peo­ple fell ill that hos­pi­tals over­flowed with pa­tients and ran out of medicines.

Still, be­tween Oc­to­ber and the end of last week, 52 peo­ple in Cal­i­for­nia died of the flu, ac­cord­ing to state data. Half of the deaths were of peo­ple over the age of 65.

Na­tion­wide, 6 mil­lion to 7 mil­lion peo­ple have caught the flu this sea­son, half of whom have sought med­i­cal care for their ill­ness, fed­eral of­fi­cials say. Be­tween 69,000 and 84,000 peo­ple have been hos­pi­tal­ized for the f lu so far, they say.

To pre­vent the spread of flu, the CDC rec­om­mends stay­ing home for 24 hours after a fever ends, cov­er­ing your nose and mouth with a tis­sue when you cough or sneeze, and wash­ing your hands of­ten.

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