King County Child Dies from Bacterial infection
A seven year old Bellevue child who had experienced flu-like symptoms died from a bacterial infection affecting the lining of the heart. The King County Medical Examiner determined that the primary cause of death was from this bacterial infection. Tests to determine the presence of influenza are pending. Influenza can make people with existing, underlying medical conditions more susceptible to other infections. In the past two weeks, a child in Seattle and a child in Kent have died due to complications related to influenza.
"I feel for the families who have suffered these terrible losses," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County. "We are deeply concerned whenever the death of a child occurs, and it reminds us of the seriousness of influenza and the vigilance needed at this time."
Fleming reiterated Public Health's recommendations about influenza, emphasizing its importance for parents of school-aged children:
Caregivers and flu patients should seek immediate medical attention if they notice complications of influenza, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, grunting, abdominal pain, increasing weakness, bluish color to the skin or lips, cold and clammy skin, or lower than normal body temperature.
You can minimize your risk of influenza. Flu vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu, and it is not too late to get a flu shot. Public Health is holding flu vaccination clinics this holiday weekend. Vaccine is also widely available at clinics, drug stores, and some retailers. In addition, minimize the spread of flu through frequent hand washing, staying home from work and school when sick, covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue, and avoiding close contact with ill persons.
Antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, can be used against the flu, although it may not be effective in all cases. Flu patients with high risk medical conditions should consult with their physicians about antiviral treatment.
"The number of influenza cases in the county has been increasing, and it may continue to circulate for a few weeks," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of the Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Immunization Section at Public Health - Seattle & King County. "However, even though influenza appears widespread, other indicators suggest that we are not seeing more severe illness at this point."
Locally, school absenteeism and hospital emergency department visits have recently passed levels observed in recent influenza seasons. However, the number of severe cases and deaths has been similar or lower than levels seen in previous years. At a national level, the Centers for Disease Control has characterized influenza activity as mild to moderate and not as severe as previous seasons.