CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health has confirmed an influenza-associated pediatric death for the 2019-20 flu season.
The last influenza-associated pediatric death was reported during the 2017-18 flu season.
While adult flu deaths are not required to be reported, influenza-associated deaths of children under the age of 18 are of serious concern and are required to be reported to the local health department within one week. To protect the family’s privacy, no details of the death will be released including the child’s name, hometown, county, age and gender.
Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against the flu. The Bureau for Public Health urges all West Virginians 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated against the flu.
Those who are very susceptible to flu and its complications include children under the age of five years old, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions (e.g., diabetes, asthma, etc.). Infants under 6 months of age cannot receive the influenza vaccine. The best way to protect them is to have everyone who will have contact with the infant receive a flu vaccine, and to also limit an infant’s exposure to large groups of individuals.
Other precautions people can take include:
l Staying home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours
l Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discarding the tissue promptly
l Washing hands frequently, preferably with soap and water
A total of 78 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported nationwide during the 2019-20 influenza season.