Stanislaus County Health officials said Wednesday that a child has died of influenza and that the prevalence of flu this winter is more of a threat to children.
The County Health Services Agency said the child had otherwise been healthy before it came to the bottom of flu symptoms. The age and place of residence of the child were not released out of respect for the privacy of the family. The agency said that the tragic and unexpected death occurred within the last two weeks.
"This is a very sad reminder that the flu is unpredictable and can be fatal," said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Public Health Officer for Stanislaus County. "We express our deepest condolences to the child's family and hope that we can help people to understand that the flu is a serious illness."
Vaishampayan said the child was infected with the H1
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"We know that H1N1 affects children more than adults," Vaishampayan said. "It's important that your child is vaccinated."
Seasonal flu is rife this month and is expected to sicken residents of the northern San Joaquin Valley in the coming months, according to a US Department of Health monitoring program.
One year ago, the state and nation were hit by one of the worst flu seasons that swept hospitals with patients and claimed 80,000 lives across the country. H3N2, the predominant virus strain of the last year, is particularly hard on older people.
This year's season is not nearly as hard at near-normal hospitalization. Children are more susceptible to the dominance that is spreading this winter. The H1N1 virus appeared with the 2009-10 pandemic and became part of the mix of influenza strains circulating each year.
The H1N1 virus is a strain covered by this year's vaccine, Vaishampayan said. Influenza vaccination is recommended for anyone over 6 months of age, except those with severe allergies to the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccinations are available in pharmacies, family doctors, health clinics and in the community events.
For patients who are ill and prone to serious complications, physicians may prescribe an antiviral medication that can reduce or reduce the severity of the condition. The drug must be taken early in the disease.
People can also take simple precautions to avoid spreading or catching the disease, such as: Handwash, cover cough, do not touch eyes and nose, avoid contact with sick persons Disinfection of surfaces at home.
For more information, visit the Stanislaus County Public Health website at http://www.hsahealth.org/pages/flu.shtm.