First pediatric flu death reported in Northeast Ohio

Henrietta Brewer
February 23, 2019

The state Public Health Department confirmed Tuesday that the latest child to die of the flu was a girl from Middlesex County.

In Cleveland, 11 adults have died this season, and almost 250 people have been hospitalized for flu-associated illnesses, officials said.

"Young children are among those most at risk for serious illness and death from influenza, so healthy individuals who get a flu shot are helping to protect those who can not take a flu shot, including infants under the age of 6 months", said OCCHD Executive Director Gary Cox.

Senior author Dave Gilbertson of the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation in Minnesota and colleagues suspected that patterns of deaths in these patients might be linked at least to some extent with seasonal fluctuations in flu-like illnesses.

"Pediatric influenza deaths are very unfortunate".

Dr. Albert Wu, an internist and professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said the study is a reminder that many respiratory infections other than flu can be deadly.

Hers is the youngest flu-related death announced so far for the 2018-19 flu year that started on July 1.

County health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advise the annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, especially demographics with a heightened risk of serious complications, such as pregnant women, people older than 65 and people with chronic conditions. "Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the illness". Several health departments still have the flu vaccine available such as Southern Seven and Williamson-Franklin bi-county health departments.

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