First pediatric flu death reported in Ohio

Alicia Farmer
January 10, 2018

"In more severe seasons, the flu causes approximately 700 deaths and almost 8,000 hospitalizations each year", said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary, Louisiana Department of Health.

Louisiana is seeing widespread and early flu activity, and local physicians like Dr. Jeffrey Combetta, medical director at Franklin Medical Center, say their patients are asking what can be done to avoid the illness.

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.

Even the flu-related deaths can be undercounted because they are not always attributed as such. The number of cases is rising and the predominant strain - A (H3N2) - is one that in past years has caused more hospital admissions and deaths than other strains, especially among older adults and young children.

The department says it can take up to two weeks to build full immunity to influenza following a vaccination, so people should get flu shots immediately. "We usually say over and over again that the season would peak around the fifth or sixth week of the year, so in early February".

While October is the month most generally recommended by doctors for getting an annual flu shot, there's still time to do so.

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Each year the formula for the vaccine is developed based on last year's flu virus.

This year's vaccine is said to be 10%-to-30% effective.

Those being treated for a respiratory illness or have flu-like-symptoms should obtain a mask at a Riverwood clinic or the hospital reception desk and wear it until you leave the facility. A study also done on flu vaccination said that it can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza. CRMC is also asking people not to visit if they have flu-like symptoms or have been around someone in the past seven days with fever, muscle aches or extreme fatigue, congestion, cough, sore throat or chills.

The Ohio Department of Health said influenza A, or H3N2, is the most common virus this season.

"Flu is hard to predict", said ODH Medical Director Dr. Clint Koenig, in a statement.

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