First juvenile death due to flu confirmed by health department

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed the first pediatric influenza death for the 2015-2016 flu season in northwest Mississippi.
According to a MSDH release, pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18.
Since pediatric flu deaths became reportable during the 2007-2008 flu season, there have been 14 pediatric flu deaths reported in the state, the release states.
“We know, unfortunately, that influenza infections can lead to serious complications and in some cases, death, even for healthy children and young adults,” MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in the release. “Flu activity has been modest this year, but increasing lately. It’s not too late to get a flu shot. All indicators suggest that the current flu vaccine is a good match for the flu strains in Mississippi.”
Dobbs also added in the release that the best way to prevent infection is to get a flu vaccine. Vaccinations can also reduce the risk of complications and death, he said.
According to the release, an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized because of the flu.
In Mississippi, only pediatric flu deaths are reported to MSDH, not individual cases, the release states.
The MSDH monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness Sentinel System. Healthcare providers in Mississippi report the percentage of patients with flu-like and respiratory symptoms to a database.
According to the release, this data is used to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.
Symptoms of the flu include, fever, cough, extreme fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and a runny or stuffy nose, the release states.
Young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women and people with chronic illness are at risk for influenza complications, the release states.
“It’s very important to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t infect others,” Dobbs said in the release. “Also be sure to practice good hygiene such as covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands frequently. Please contact your healthcare provider if you think you have the flu. Medications are available that can lessen the severity of the illness.”

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