Maine's First Pediatric Death Caused by Influenza in 3 Years

Henrietta Strickland
April 12, 2019

More than 9,100 Mainers have tested positive for flu this season, and 935 have been hospitalized for treatment, according to the Maine CDC. The child, a Washington County resident, was unvaccinated and tested positive for influenza A. This is the first influenza-associated pediatric death in ME during the 2018-19 influenza season.

The child's identity and age have not been released. "Vaccination can reduce illness and prevent hospitalization and death".

"Our hearts go out to the family and community affected by this tragedy", acting Maine CDC Director Nancy Beardsley said in a statement. Influenza vaccination is strongly encouraged and is still widely available. The last influenza-associated pediatric death before the death occurred in March 2016 in Maine. In fact, there hasn't been a flu-related influenza death reported in ME since 2016. The CDC recommends flu shots for everyone, ages 6 months and older, especially those at high risk of serious influenza complications. The state provides the vaccine at no cost for all children under the age of 19.

The child tested positive for influenza A, which is the dominant strain affecting people this winter.

Influenza causes a fever of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a cough or sore throat. For most people, it's a mild illness that's uncomfortable and inconvenient, but not fatal.

The four primary methods people should follow to avoid contracting or spreading the disease include getting vaccinated, washing hands, covering coughs with a tissue or shirtsleeve, and staying home when sick.

The federal CDC on its website said a total of 82 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported nationwide during the 2018-2019 flu season.

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