The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has reported the first confirmed pediatric influenza death for the 2013-2014 flu season. The death was a child from North Mississippi with chronic underlying health conditions.
Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals 18 years of age and under. Including today's reported death, there have been a total of 12 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable during the 2007-2008 flu season.
The MSDH continues to receive reports of serious illnesses and deaths from flu in young and middle-aged adults, many of whom were previously healthy. The only strain identified in Mississippi this flu season has been the 2009 influenza A H1N1 strain, which has in past years primarily affected those under 65 years of age.
Seasonal flu vaccinations are recommended for anyone ages 6 months and older. Among children, vaccination is especially important for those younger than 5 years or any child with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders. These children are at higher risk for serious complications if they become infected with influenza.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, extreme fatigue. Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. More severe symptoms and death can also occur.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.
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