FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

North Carolina DHHS reports first child flu fatality of season

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services recently reported the state's first child death from flu last week for the 2013-2014 flu season.

The patient was an infant in the state's eastern region and died as a result of complications associated with influenza. The infant, who died on January 13, was too young to receive a flu vaccination. The DHHS said the tragedy highlights the need for North Carolinians to take precautionary measures.

"Losing a child is one of the greatest challenges a person will ever face and our hearts go out to the child's family," Robin Cummings, the state's health director, said. "We hope that if there is any positive to come out of this tragedy it will be that our residents will understand how serious the flu can be and take precautions, including getting a flu vaccination."

On January 9, DHHS health officials reported 21 deaths associated with seasonal influenza this season. Nineteen of the deaths were middle-aged and young adults, most of whom had underlying medical conditions. The other two occurred in individuals over the age of 65.

Public health experts recommend that North Carolinians get flu vaccines, wash their hands with soap and water and stay away from individuals who may have the flu.

The DHHS said the flu vaccine is widely available and protects against the flu strains circulating this year, including the most common strain of the season, H1N1.