The Florida Department of Health has received notification of two influenza associated pediatric deaths in Orange and Pasco Counties. While most cases of flu are mild, there are exceptions. Pre-existing health conditions often play a role in how individuals react to the flu.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these children,” said Deputy Secretary for Health and Deputy State Health Officer for Children’s Medical Services Dr. Celeste Philip. “Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu. You can help prevent the spread of flu or other viruses by staying home from work or school when you are sick, covering your coughs and sneezes and washing your hands frequently.”
The majority of deaths from flu in the United States each year occur in persons with underlying chronic health conditions. Pregnant women, young children, cancer patients, people with asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease and kidney disease need to pay particular attention to personal hygiene, avoid close contact to infected persons and consult with their healthcare provider regarding the influenza vaccine.
Additional flu prevention steps include washing your hands often, keeping your hands away from your face and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing. Symptoms of the flu include headache, fever, severe cough, sore throat, runny nose or body aches. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your primary care provider immediately for guidance on treatment.
In Florida, the most common influenza subtype detected at the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL) in recent weeks has been influenza A (H3). Each year scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause the flu that particular year. Currently available vaccine formulations protect against all strains of influenza that have been identified by the BPHL as circulating in Florida this season.
It is important for you and your family members to get a flu vaccine every year. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, retail stores, pharmacies, health centers and by many employers and schools.