New York child under four dies of flu as health officials brace for a deadly season of the virus
- Monroe County health officials confirmed that one child had developed and died of the flu there
- New York state health officials have confirmed one death as well, suggesting the Monroe County child may be the state’s first
- Only two pediatric deaths have been confirmed in the US so far this year
- The first such death, in California in September and a potentially poorly matched vaccine suggest to experts this year could be a bad one for flu
A toddler in New York has died of the flu, health officials in Monroe County reported.
The child, who was under the age of four, is the first confirmed case of flu in the age group in the county and appears to be the first pediatric fatality in New York, according to the states latest data.
Flu season in the US officially begins as early October, and has a long peak stretching from December to March.
Health officials are urging Americans to get their flu shots before Halloween, dropping temperatures and rising virus activity.
So far, a total of two children have died of the flu across the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
US officials are urging parents to get all children over six months old vaccinated against flu after New York reported its first pediatric death from flu (file)
Flu’s primary victims are the very young and the very old, and all deaths from the virus are difficult to keep track of.
Very young and old people as well as those with underlying conditions have weaker immune systems, so their bodies are more vulnerable to and hit harder by the flu and other infections.
The CDC only requires states to report pediatric deaths, so these become an important measure of how mild or severe a flu season is.
This year, the flu started claiming lives early.
On September 12, health officials in Riverside County, California, outside San Diego, reported that a child under four had died of flu there.
It was a foreboding sign, and experts warned the unusually early death could suggest the US would be in a for a particularly harsh flu season.
Since then, the CDC has only confirmed one other child’s death. It’s not clear if this is the same death reported by Monroe County.
The CDC is expected to report new flu data on Thursday.
Each year, countless flu strains circle the globe. Some are more active and prevalent than others in different times and places.
During the record-shattering 2017-2018 flu season, for example, a strain known as influenza A (H3N2) was dominant and particularly aggressive for the first half of the flu season.
But the tables turned in March, and influenza B viruses surged from then through May.
And often, the strains that are most commonly reported in adults are not the same ones reported in children.
This year, one of the confirmed child’s deaths was caused by influenza A, and the other was due to influenza B, the CDC said.
Officials urge that the vaccine is safe, does not cause flu and is the best way to prevent potentially life-threatening infection.
Each year, the flu shot is developed differently, based on the strains that health officials think are most likely to circulate.
For the 2019-2020 season, the four flu shots are quadrivalent, or designed to protect against four strains of the flu.
The shot can be given to any children over six months of age.