Florida Child First Youth To Die Of Flu In U.S. This Season

On the heels of one of the deadliest flu seasons in recent memory, officials in Florida have confirmed this season’s first death — a child who was not vaccinated. State health officials announced Monday the child , who wasn’t named, tested positive for the influenza B strain and died between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6.

It is the first flu-related child death in the country this season, according to The New York Times. The child’s age, gender and location weren’t immediately known. Most children who die from the flu aren’t vaccinated, the state said, but this bucked past trends in that the child didn’t have any underlying medical issues.

“Most deaths are reported in children with underlying medical conditions. Children, especially those with certain health conditions are at increased risk of severe complications from influenza infection,” officials noted in s report about the first week of this flu season. The report was initially obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

The death comes at a time when influenza reports have sprouted nationwide. Flu activity remained low throughout the summer months and into early October, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted. While the B strain was more prevalent between May and June, the A strain has dominated reports after July. The agency said all strains have shown they’re vulnerable to antiviral drugs.

Nationwide during the week of Sept 30, just 1.4 percent of patients who reported flu-like symptoms had an influenza-like illness, the CDC said. That’s below the national baseline of 2.2 percent.

The CDC suggests everyone over 6 months receive a flu shot or nasal spray, particularly when it comes to those who have complications, including kids, pregnant women, seniors and people with chronic medical conditions.

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The latest death comes after 180 kids died during last year’s flue season, along with about 80,000 other Americans. About 80 percent of the child deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.

The death toll was the highest seen in four decades, the CDC said. Flu activity began to spike in November and peaked in January and February. Activity remained high through the end of March.

The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and flu was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeks, the CDC noted. H3N2, an A strain, was the culprit for many of those deaths, but it’s too early to tell which will be the predominant strain this year.

“Influenza seasons vary in timing, severity and length,” the Florida Department of Health told The Times in a statement Monday.

Officials said they expect the number of cases will rise over the coming weeks. And even if you do get the vaccine, there’s a possibility you’ll still get sick. The overall vaccine effectiveness of the 2017-18 vaccine against both strains was estimated at just 40 percent.

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