JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the second confirmed pediatric influenza death for the 2016-2017 flu season. The death occurred in an individual who lived in South Mississippi. Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18 years of age. The first confirmed pediatric death of the 2016-2017 flu season was reported in January in an individual from Central Mississippi.
Including this reported death, there have been a total of 16 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in the 2007-2008 flu season.
“While activity in Mississippi has been decreasing over the last several weeks, we are still getting reports of influenza occurring throughout the state” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We know, unfortunately, that influenza infections can lead to serious complications and in some cases, death, even for healthy children and young adults.”
Byers said the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to prevent infection, and for anyone six months of age and older, vaccination can reduce the risk of complications and death.
Other prevention methods include staying home when you are sick or keeping kids home from school when they are sick, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and practicing healthy handwashing practices.
Nationwide, an estimated 3,000-49,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
In Mississippi, only pediatric flu deaths are reportable. While individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Healthcare providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. MSDH uses this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and sore throat. Fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. More severe symptoms and death can also occur.
Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses. However, even young and otherwise healthy people can have complications and die from the flu.
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