Washington state reports first flu death of season

Health officials in Washington state have confirmed the state’s first flu death of the 2018-2019 season, a man in his 40s who had “chronic health concerns that increased his risk for complications.”

The Pierce County man, who was not identified by name, died in a hospital on Monday, according to a Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department statement. It was not clear if the man had gotten the flu vaccine. The Seattle Times reported that health care facilities across the state had reported little flu activity in the first half of October.

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“Yes, this is early, but you don’t want people to be lulled into a false sense of security by the timing,” Steve Metcalf, county health department spokesperson told The Times. “We want people to know flu season is something serious.”

Other states have reported flu-related deaths already this season, with health professionals across the country urging everybody six months and older to get vaccinated.

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The flu typically comes on suddenly and can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. According to the CDC, most people will recover in a few days to two weeks, but others will develop complications that could be life-threatening. Those at high-risk for complications include patients 65 and older, people with chronic medical issues, pregnant women and children younger than 5.

The flu killed an estimated 80,000 Americans last season, making it the worst in decades. Flu activity typically experiences an increase at the end of October through the winter months.