State confirms first pediatric flu-related death of 2018 - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

State confirms first pediatric flu-related death of 2018

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(Image Courtesy: MGN Online) (Image Courtesy: MGN Online)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the first pediatric flu-related death of 2018.

State Officials said that the 6-year-old girl from Haverhill died on Monday. 

The first grader attended Golden Hills Elementary School which was thoroughly cleaned after receiving the heartbreaking news.

"This is a tragic reminder of how serious the flu can be for some people.  Every flu season is different, but every flu season is bad.  This one arrived early and continues to spread, leading many people throughout the Commonwealth to get sick," said state public health commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel in a statement.

The CDC reports that, as of February 3, there have been a total of 63 pediatric influenza-related deaths across the country.

Last flu season, there were two confirmed pediatric flu-related deaths in Massachusetts.

Mass. DPH estimates that between 250 and 1,100 state residents die each year because of flu complications.  

The department noted that while many of the influenza-like illness cases are not reported, there have been more than 8,100 lab-confirmed cases in Massachusetts this flu season.

Mass. DPH is urging those who have not received a flu vaccination to get one. 

The state offers this information on how to stop the flu from spreading:

  • Talk to their healthcare provider (call first) if they think they have the flu, especially if they have health concerns that make them more likely to develop severe illness when sick with the flu. The doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started early in the illness.  If symptoms do not improve or worsen rapidly, they should seek medical attention immediately.
  • Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.  Vaccine is still available, and there is likely to be flu activity for weeks to come.
  • Stay home when they are sick with fever and cough or a sore throat, if possible.  People should stay at home until they have gone 24 hours without fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover their coughs and sneezes.

Symptoms of the flu are most commonly fever, cough, and a sore throat.  However, symptoms can also include headache, chills, runny nose, body aches, and feeling very tired.  Symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to a week or longer.

Some people, especially kids, may also have diarrhea and vomiting.

Those who think they may have the flu are urged to call their healthcare provider.

For more information on the flu, you can visit the Mass. DPH website.  If you have questions, you can contact your health care provider, your local board of health, or Mass. DPH at (617) 983-6800

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