Health officials confirm first pediatric flu death
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the first confirmed pediatric influenza death for the 2016-2017 flu season. The death occurred in an individual who lived in Central Mississippi. Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18 years of age.
Including this reported death, there have been a total of 15 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in the 2007-2008 flu season.
“We know, unfortunately, that influenza infections can lead to serious complications and in some cases, death, even for healthy children and young adults,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We are now in peak flu season, and it’s vitally important to get a flu shot if you haven’t done so already. All indicators suggest that the current flu vaccine is a good match for the flu strains in Mississippi.”
Byers said the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent infection, and for anyone six months of age and older, vaccination can reduce the risk of complications and death.
“It’s very important to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t infect others. 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 illness,” said Byers.
Nationwide, an estimated 3,000-49,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
In Mississippi, only pediatric flu deaths are reportable. While individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Healthcare providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. MSDH uses this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough and often, extreme fatigue. Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. More severe symptoms and death can also occur.
Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses. However, even young and otherwise healthy people can have complications and die from the flu.
For more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/flu. Follow MSDH by email and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.