Harris County Public Health confirms child flu-related death

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Harris County Public Health is confirming a flu-related death of a child, the first pediatric death in the county during the flu season which began on Oct. 1, 2017. 

Harris County Public Health didn't release much information about the child, but did say she was a girl under the age of 18 and she died this month.

Officials are reminding people about the importance of protecting themselves against the flu.

“This death is a somber reminder of the danger flu poses to our residents, especially those who are more vulnerable to develop serious flu complications” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of HCPH. “Obtaining a flu shot and taking other preventive measures are your best lines of defense against the flu.”

Based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 84 pediatric flu-related deaths throughout the U.S. during the flu season. Officials encourage anyone over the age six months old to get a flu shot.

"In fact, we know that of the 84 children who died from the flu this year in the United States, 3 out of 4 of them were unvaccinated," said Dr.Claire Bocchini with Texas Children's Hospital. "We actually found out last week that here in the United States, for children, the vaccine has been 59 percent effective."

Dr. Bocchini says kids are particularly vulnerable to the flu because they have smaller airways and weaker immune systems.

"Kids are also more at risk of becoming severely dehydrated from the flu, they have more vomiting and diarrhea than adults do," Dr. Bocchini said.

As of last Friday, state officials reported six pediatric flu deaths in Texas. Officials say if you or your child show any flu-related symptoms, don't take any chances -- see your doctor and stay home.

Health officials say getting vaccinated is especially important for the following groups:

  • Anyone with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic lung disease;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Young children over the age of six months;
  • Anyone 65 years of age and older; and/or,
  • Anyone who lives with or cares for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.

Flu symptoms include the following:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults

It is important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.