First pediatric flu death reported in Ohio

Henrietta Brewer
January 10, 2018

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported the state's first pediatric flu death of the season.

The 2017-18 flu season in OH and nationally is looking similar to what was seen during the 2014-15 flu season which at the time was the most severe flu season in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

White County Public Health nurse Marsha Oilar said a 91-year-old man from Reynolds, Indiana has died because of the virus.

ODH also is reporting more than 1,700 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in OH during the first week of January, a significant increase over 925 reported during the last week of December.

Flu season begins in October, and typically peaks between December and February.

It's relevant to note that these are just the reported numbers - they could be much higher, as not everyone seeks medical attention when they have the flu.

White County Public Health nurse Marsha Oilar says she administers 600 doses of the flu vaccine each year.

Schneider said the rise in positive flu cases could be attributed to better reporting on the physicians' part.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Heath recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over six months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot.

The strain of the virus that has been predominant this flu season (H3N2) is more unsafe for the elderly and young children, Johnson said. "It's not possible to say precisely when this flu season will peak or end or how severe it will be". It takes about two weeks for protection to develop after vaccination and protection lasts throughout the flu season.

"Even if it's not a good match and even if you do get sick, you have a milder version of the disease, so hopefully you don't have to be hospitalized ... and you may not expire", he said. A study also done on flu vaccination said that it can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza.

Get vaccinated. The list of reasons to avoid vaccination is short (such as having a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past); and no, the standard injected flu vaccine can not cause you to get the flu. The flu shot used the same components as as Australia's vaccine during their flu season that ended in August.

Dr. Cara Christ, the department's director, says parents should make sure their children are vaccinated and keep them home from school if they have flu-like symptoms. "And if they do get sick, try to reach their health district for antiviral medication".

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