Colorado reports state’s first pediatric flu death of season

Health officials in Colorado reported the state’s first pediatric flu death of the season, and said the highest rate of hospitalizations due to the virus has been among 0-4 year olds. In a news release updating residents on the virus’ activity, officials did not release any additional details about the child’s identity, and only said that the death occurred during the week of Jan 12.

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“One pediatric death associated with influenza was reported for the 2018-19 influenza season,” the news release, posted on the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, said. “This was associated with influenza A, H1N1 and occurred during the week ending January 12, 2019.”

Additionally, the state reported 132 flu-related hospitalizes for the same week, bringing the season’s total to 1,192. It said the virus’ activity across the state can be considered widespread.

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According to Fox 31, the death does not involve a 7-year-old girl who has been in a coma at Children’s Hospital since December. The news station said the girl’s family confirmed that she is still alive.

As of Jan. 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said between 6 million and 7 million people sickened with the flu in the U.S., and up to half have sought medical care. It estimates that up to 84,000 people have been hospitalized nationwide, but said the severity is currently lower than it was last season. As of Jan. 5, the CDC had been notified of 16 flu-associated pediatric deaths.

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Health officials stressed that the flu vaccine is the first line of defense against the virus, and that it can help lessen the severity of the illness. The virus typically causes fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. While most people recover from the flu without requiring hospitalization, some can develop life-threatening complications. Those most at risk for severe illness include patients 65 and older, people with chronic medical issues, pregnant women and children younger than 5.