First death of Florida flu season confirmed

flu deaths
Posted at 11:40 AM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 13:13:27-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is reporting the first flu-related death of the season.

According to the department's reports, it was child who did not get their flu shot this year. They say the child had no health conditions and say this is the first pediatric death reported so far during the 2017-2018 season.

While rare, there are flu-related deaths each season. Last season, FDOH received 11 reports of flu-related pediatric deaths, most of those occurring in unvaccinated children with underlying health conditions.

Children, especially those with underlying health conditions, are at higher risk of severe outcomes from influnza infection. But the flu isn't the only risk children face during this season.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the CDC. While the virus is normally not a threat for most adults, it can be serious for infants and older adults.

In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, infection of the lungs, in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.

Unfortunately for Florida, RSV activity this year has been higher than levels seen in previous seasons. 

Statistics surrounding influenza activity show much of the same outlook for this season. The FDOH says that flu activity has steadily been increasing over the last few weeks.

More outbreaks have been reported during this part of the season than in previous seasons, which officials say could be an early indication of a more severe season.

However, CDC officials say that flu shots can be effective against severe outcomes from infection, particularly when it comes to children.

The CDC says a study done this year showed that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends several steps in protecting against the flu virus and other illnesses like it.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Do not share cups and eating utensils
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth after coming in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces regularly
  • Stay home when you are sick

You can find out where to get a flu shot here