First Infant Death From Flu Confirmed

November 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

State health officials today confirmed that an infant in Stanislaus County had dies from the flu.

California Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said it’s the “first influenza-related fatality in a person under the age of one year for the 2015-2016 flu season.”

“As California’s public health officer, I am saddened when the flu turns into loss of life,” Dr. Smith said. “It is especially troubling when a baby, too young to be vaccinated, passes away. To protect babies who cannot yet be vaccinated, we should get our flu shots. Preventing the spread of this often deadly disease is why getting vaccinated is so important.”

Health officials reminded the public that children under 6 months of age are at higher risk of severe influenza or flu because they are too young to be vaccinated.

However, newborns get some protection if the mother is vaccinated while pregnant.

Anyone who expects to be around a newborn or any other “high-risk” person should get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.

So far this year, overall flu activity has “been sporadic,” says Dr. Smith, but added that flu virus activity usually peaks from December to April.

Smith urged people to be vaccinated before the spread of illness reaches peak levels, “to protect yourself and those around you.”

Of the millions of people who contact the flu, hundreds of thousands will wind up in the hospital and thousands, to tens of thousands will die, according to California’s public health department.

To reduce this threat, CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women. Two of this season’s vaccine components, the influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B (Yamagata lineage) strains, have been updated to match the viruses Californians are likely to face during the 2015-2016 flu season.

The elderly and people with weak immune systems are also at higher risk of serious complications from the flu, however, there were 78 influenza-associated deaths reported in persons under 65 years of age in California during the 2014-15 influenza season.

Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, Californians should also:

—Stay home when sick;

—Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue and properly dispose of the used tissue;

—Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

—Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

To find out where to get the flu vaccine, contact your primary physician, clinic or pharmacy. The Los Angeles County Health Department offers low- or no-cost flu immunizations. For more information about the flu visit the CDPH influenza web page .To find a flu vaccine location near you, visit www.flu.gov.

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