by Anna Boyd
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed the fourth flu-related death of a child this year. Massachusetts health officials informed that a 12-year-old girl from Worcester County died Sunday from flu complications, two days after a 15-year-old boy died in Newton from flu-related pneumonia, the Boston Globe reported.
The Massachusetts DPH announced last week that the state first confirmed pediatric death associated with influenza involving a 6-year-old child from Suffolk County. The child died on March 2 after he had suffered from a number of health problems that likely contributed to complications from the flu.
The second confirmed case involved a 14-year-old child from Middlesex County who died on March 1, and also had a number of health problems that likely contributed to complications from the flu.
None of the children was identified because of patient confidentiality laws.
This flu season seems to have been wilder than the past two winters. Forty-four states reported widespread flu outbreaks last month. About 10 children had died from the flu nationwide as of February.
“This has been a very difficult flu season for the residents of Massachusetts. While flu-related deaths of children are rare, tragically they do occur. These deaths are a reminder that flu is a serious illness that can result in severe consequences fro children, particularly those with underlying medical problems,” Dr. Alfred DeMaria, DPH’s Director of Communicable Disease Control said, according to the same source.
Flu activity peaked in the state during the week of Feb. 17, but will remain active through April. According to officials, people with chronic health conditions are at high risk of bad outcomes from influenza.
Health officials are urging Massachusetts residents to follow some steps, which can prevent flu from spreading including: being vaccinated, staying home when sick, frequently washing hands with soap and warm water and coughing into a tissue and not into hands.
This year’s flu shot did not match some of the flu strains circulating this year, which also worsened the situation. However, health officials said people should get vaccinated no mater the flaws of the vaccine. The specialists also recommended that in future flu season, all children should be vaccinated, except those younger than 6 months.