BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of Health has recorded the first flu-related pediatric death in the state for this flu season.
Health officials have seen an increase in flu activity since mid-December, and are warning the public to do what they can to prevent the virus.
In late January, the first reported case of a flu-related death involving an adult was reported in Frederick.
Doctors say it’s important to note that it’s not necessarily the virus itself responsible for these tragedies
“It wasn’t just a simple flu that suddenly became severe. Typically, it’s a flu and someone with asthma or with structural lung disease or was premature or has COPD and then gets significantly sicker,” said Sinai Hospital Emergency Medicine Doctor Neil Roy.
He says this season he has seen more sick children, even after getting the flu shot. He also says that doesn’t mean this year’s shot has been any less effective, but that there may be other strains of the virus out there.
“Those conversations are going on right now on a CDC, on a national level as to what we can do to be better prepared for next year,” Roy said.
The CDC says nearly 15,000 people have been admitted to the hospital with the flu this year and at least 54 children have died since October.
One mom told WJZ her child is allergic to the flu shot.
“I just keep him home when he’s sick,” Mutina Chestnut said. “When he’s sick he stays home.”
The Department of Health says it’s required to report flu-related pediatric deaths, but cannot discuss the specifics of individual cases.
The CDC recommends you take the following steps to help prevent catching the flu:
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Practice other good health habits such as these:
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
• Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
If you believe you have the flu, contact your doctor.
For more information about the influenza and the benefits of vaccination, visit the CDC’s influenza page, flu prevention page, or call CDC at 800-CDC-INFO. Stay up-to-date on influenza activity in Maryland by visiting the Maryland FluWatch page for weekly updates.