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article imageFlu widespread and deadly, claiming the lives of 37 children

By Karen Graham     Jan 26, 2018 in Health
Statistics released by the CDC on Friday show that 37 children have perished from flu-associated illnesses as of last Saturday—and the flu season is on track to be one of the worst in 15 years, the Washington Post reports.
Health officials are also reporting a total of 11,965 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported between October 1, 2017, and January 20, 2018. Among those hospitalized, influenza A virus was responsible for (10,612) 88.7 percent of the hospitalizations while Influenza B was responsible for (1,295) 10.9 percent of the hospitalizations.
Flu activity is said to high or even extremely high in 39 states, including New York City and Puerto Rico, with flu activity minimal in Maine and Montana, and at low levels in Utah. Health officials also fear the final pediatric death toll might exceed the 148 deaths recorded in the 2014-15 season.
Dr. John Williams, a professor and division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center spoke with NBC News about the already high number of pediatric deaths.
Dr. Williams said, "Every year in the U.S., somewhere between 100 to 300 pediatric deaths from the flu are reported. And that's likely an underestimate. We might have more deaths than usual this year. We don't know what's going to happen with the rest of the season. We probably haven't peaked yet."
What is more alarming is the recent deaths of children who reportedly showed symptoms typical of a cold or the flu. Dylan Winnik a 12-year-old Florida boy, had sniffles and was exhausted, symptoms his family initially thought were a cold. Now, they believe it was flu that caused his death on Tuesday.
A sneeze in progress
A sneeze in progress
"It's incredible to think about a normal, healthy child who can succumb to the flu and succumb very, very quickly; that is the nature of the illness," said Dr. Susan Rehm, Vice Chair of the Department of Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, according to Fox 8 Cleveland.
And while the CDC is recommending vaccination as a way to reduce infection from the flu virus by 60 percent, Dr. Rehm reminds people it takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. However, she wants parents to know the symptoms to look for in children.
"A fever that does not go away or one that goes away for a while and comes back; anybody that has difficulty breathing or trouble staying awake those are the types of things that should lead people to seek care," said Dr. Rehm.
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