Pediatric flu death reported in Placer County
Published on December 31, 2019
Placer County Public Health has been notified that a school-aged Placer County child recently died from complications of influenza. The child was previously healthy and died in a Placer County hospital.
“The loss of a child to influenza is heartbreaking and we extend our deepest sympathy to the family,” said Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “This is a tragic reminder of just how serious influenza can be. I urge everyone to get an annual flu vaccine. While the flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, it does reduce the severity of the flu. Getting vaccinated reduces flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed days of school and work, and flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Please, please get a flu vaccination if you haven’t already.”
While flu vaccination is recommended annually for everyone 6 months and older, it is particularly important for young children, pregnant women, adults aged 65 and older and people with long-term health conditions.
It is also important to practice good health habits to limit the spread of influenza. Sick people should stay home for 24 hours after symptoms are gone; always cover coughs and sneezes; wash hands with soap and water; and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.
Influenza comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People at higher risk of severe disease who have flu symptoms should contact their medical provider. Providers may prescribe antiviral medications that reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu.
Flu activity continues to increase in California and across the nation. The predominant strain circulating in most areas is an influenza B virus, which is particularly dangerous in children.
“One common myth is that you can get the flu from a flu shot. The virus in the flu vaccine is inactivated and cannot cause the flu,” Sisson said. “Another common misconception is that influenza is the same as the ‘stomach flu.’ The ‘stomach flu’ is also called gastroenteritis and involves irritation of the stomach and intestines, often associated with vomiting or diarrhea. While not enjoyable, gastroenteritis normally resolves quickly. Influenza, on the other hand, attacks the respiratory system—your nose, throat, and lungs—and can be very serious, even deadly.”
Vaccination is safe, effective, and widely available. Most insurance plans, including Medi-Cal and Medicare, cover free flu vaccinations from your health care provider. Many pharmacies also offer no-cost or low-cost vaccines. To find a place to get a flu shot, visit vaccinefinder.org or call Placer County Public Health at 530-889-7183. For more information on influenza, please visit the CDC influenza website at cdc.gov/flu.