COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A 3-year-old boy from Columbus died as a result of the flu, becoming the first local flu-associated pediatric death of the 2018-2019 season and the fourth flu-associated pediatric death in Ohio.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said they are investigating the child’s death.
“It’s an unfortunate situation and I want to remind people you often don’t die from the flu, you die from complications of the flu,” Roberts said.
“So it’s very important that we think about what we call our most sensitive groups that should be protected from the flu by making sure they get the vaccine. Those are children, older adults and those with lung disease whether that’s asthma, COPD and those with compromised immune systems,” Roberts said.
Dr. Matthew Washam, director of Epidemiology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says there are some warning signs of a possible severe influenza infection.
“For younger kids, if they’re not taking a lot of liquids by mouth and having a decreased number of wet diapers, that’s reason to go to the emergency room or call their pediatrician or physician,” Washam said.
Washam says signs of respiratory distress or lethargy can also indicate a more serious problem. But, he says, most children can weather influenza without any real problems.
“Most kids have a reasonably mild infection,” Washam said. “It still causes fevers. It still causes body aches, muscle pains, coughing, runny nose, congestion. It’ll certainly make kids feel bad but most kids, the vast majority of kids can recover at home with fluids with rest. It’s really a small percentage of children who require hospitalization due to influenza.”
Flu activity has been increasing over the last few weeks and public health officials encourage anyone 6 months or older to get a flu shot if they haven’t already gotten one.
Flu shots are available at Columbus Public Health and FrankIin County Public Health, as well as healthcare providers and retail pharmacy outlets.
In addition to the vaccine, you can help prevent the flu by washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home if you are sick.
Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.