Flu Blamed For Two Children's Death in NE
There have been two deaths of children in the past week that are being blamed on the flu. One in Boston. One in New York.
The child in Boston is reported to be seventh grader Hunter Pope who died over the weekend. The child in Levittown, New York is reported to be a 10 year old who also died over this past weekend.
Massachusetts State Public Health Department spokesman John Jacob said four children died in their state from the flu last season.
The Levittown student is the first childhood death due to the flu on Long Island in the past five years according to the Nassau County Health Department. Last year eight children died of the flu in the state of New York.
Two Type-A strains of the flu are in circulation (A-H3N2 and A-H1N1). Both can be prevented by this season's vaccine.
Pediatric flu deaths are an uncommon occurrence, but do happen. The vast majority are children who are unvaccinated. During last year's flu season 91 children died nationally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 36,000 people, most of them elderly, die annually of the flu. Another 200,000 or more are hospitalized. The flu often is followed by deadly bacterial lung infections. Other complications of flu can include ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Richard Kanowitz, president of Families Fighting Flu, said he has been emphasizing the importance of flu vaccination since the death of his daughter, Amanda at age 4 in 2004. "Everything I know about the flu vaccine says it's safe," said Kanowitz, a native of Oceanside who lives in Manhattan. ... I didn't know to have Amanda vaccinated. She died almost five years ago. So the mistake I made was not having her vaccinated."