New Jersey Health Department Confirms First Pediatric Flu Death Of Season

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According to national figures, almost half of all flu-related hospitalizations across Canada early in the season were among children and youth.

This year's flu season has been rough, with the CDC reporting the flu is widespread in 24 states, with 19 states reporting high levels of flu activity.

Dr. Walshak says he expects to see more flu cases around the country. "It's still low in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 22 of our 50 states, but that will change as the season progresses", Stephen Morse, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in NY, told Healthline.

"We're really just now getting into our flu season", said Dr. Michelle Murti of Public Health Ontario, noting that the proportion of tests on people with respiratory bugs that came back positive for influenza had doubled to 16 per cent in the week ending December 29, compared to eight per cent the week before.

State health officials have confirmed the first death of a New Jersey child associated with the flu this season.

Every year in the USA, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and the flu causes about 12,000 to 56,000 deaths each year, data shows.

The viruses circulating this year are another reason for the milder season.

"The dominant virus is different from previous year, which is excellent. We are hoping for a milder season than we had past year, which was a doozy", Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, told Healthline. That applies to data collected on both adults and children.

Since 2010, the CDC has advised that everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against influenza.

Canada-wide, 414 children have been hospitalized with the flu, the vast majority the H1N1 strain of influenza A, which tends to hit children hardest.

"So we would like everybody who's eligible to get the vaccine", said Russell, noting that it takes about two weeks for antibodies induced by the shot to come into full effect. "There is influenza virus circulating in all of our communities so if you haven't been vaccinated, you really should get with the program".

The flu season is far from over though.

Although not a flawless vaccine, Morse says the average person may not realize just how important a role the influenza vaccine plays in public health. Sometimes those are sick can also have a cough and some people also get a fever, but not everyone with the flu will definitely have a fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control. "This is called 'herd immunity, '" he explained. Healthcare workers should also get the vaccine to protect themselves and those that they care for. However, health officials say the flu shot works better against that strain.

Regular hand washing, getting the flu shot, and sneezing into your arm rather than your hand are important preventive measures.

There are tests that can confirm whether a patient has the flu or not but for the most part doctors will diagnose patients based on their symptoms.

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