A baby younger than one died due to flu-related complications; the child’s death was the first flu-related death in Stanislaus County, the Health Services Agency said Friday.
Infant first flu-related death in Stanislaus County
Health officials said the baby had an underlying medical condition and died Tuesday.
“The death of this infant is a tremendous loss and our condolences go out to the family,” Public Health Director Rebecca Nanyonjo said in a news release.
County health officials said the 2015/2016 flu season is just beginning. They are urging residents to get a flu vaccine in order to prevent serious sickness caused by the flu.
The flu is more likely to cause severe illness and complications in children under two, pregnant women and seniors. Infants younger than six months old are not able to get the flu vaccine. Health officials said the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone older than six months old.
“It is important for Stanislaus County residents receive the annual flu vaccine and take other preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness and help prevent further loss of life,” Nanyonjo added.
Health officials said it takes the body two weeks to develop maximum protection against the flu after getting the vaccine.
California reports first infant flu death of the season
Two days after announcing that the death of an adult Santa Clara County resident from flu was the first reported flu death of the season, California Department of Public Health officials on Friday said an infant also has succumbed to the highly contagious respiratory illness.
The baby, who was less than a year old, lived in Stanislaus County, state public health officials said.
On Wednesday, the department reported that a Santa Clara County resident between 18 and 65 years old — and who had suffered from other health complications — was the state’s first adult flu fatality.
No other information was released about either victim.
Once again, state Public Health Director Dr. Karen Smith said she was saddened when the flu results in a loss of life. But it is especially troubling, she said in a statement, when a baby who is too young to be vaccinated passes away.
“To protect babies who cannot yet be vaccinated, we should get our flu shots,” Smith said. “Preventing the spread of this often deadly disease is why getting vaccinated is so important.”
Children under age 1 are at increased risk of severe influenza. While children cannot be vaccinated for the flu until they are six months old, there are several ways to protect them, public health experts say. Pregnant women also should get vaccinated to protect the mother and the newborn baby.
And anyone who is around a young child or other high-risk person should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading influenza, experts say. While overall influenza activity in California remains sporadic, Smith pointed out that influenza viruses circulate at their peak levels from December through April.
“I urge you to be vaccinated now before the flu really spreads widely to protect yourself and those around you,” Smith said.
Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. To reduce this threat, public health officials recommend the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older.
Two of this season’s vaccine components, the influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B (Yamagata lineage) strains, have been updated to match the viruses Californians are likely to face during the 2015-2016 flu season.
Flu can cause severe disease across all ages. According to the California influenza surveillance report, there were 78 influenza-associated deaths reported in people under age 65 in California during the 2014-15 influenza season. Only deaths in people under 65 are reported to the state, and many influenza-associated deaths are unrecognized. Therefore, the actual number of deaths due to influenza was much greater.
Common symptoms of the flu include fever, a cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Spike In Flu Cases Prompts Australia To Add Another Strain To Vaccine For 2016 Season
Australians can expect a stronger flu vaccine for next year’s season, following a record-setting number of cases in 2015.
Winter 2015 saw 90,000 cases of flu in the country, an increase of about 25,000 cases from the previous year.
Instead of the typical three flu strains, the new vaccine will comprise of four strains: two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains. Influenza B strains were thought to have caused most of the cases, or about 62 percent, during the recent winter in Australia.
The quadrivalent vaccine – aligned with recommendations from the World Health Organization for the southern hemisphere – is targeted to offer the best possible protection for the most at-risk.
“It’s also important to remember we may be seeing more cases because more people are taking their flu symptoms seriously and going to see their doctor,” said Sussan Ley, the country’s Minister of Health in a press release.
The Australian government currently allots more than $40 million for flu immunization, which is believed to pose “serious health, social, productivity and economic threats” to the community each year, according to Ley.
The government will specifically offer two vaccines next year: one for ages three and above, and another for the below age three segment.
The National Immunization Program (NIP) deems individuals ages 65 and older, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders under age five and older than 15, pregnant women, and those with existing health conditions as most at risk for flu.
In the United Kingdom, the previous winter’s flu vaccine exhibited an unusually low effective rate against the primary circulating strains, or only 34 percent.
Children are of particular interest and will be given a nasal spray flu vaccine protecting against four strains. Public Health England’s flu surveillance head Dr. Richard Peabody said over 3.3 million youngsters across England would be offered the spray vaccine this winter, as the infection is more common in kids than adults.
“[A]s a result the childhood programme aims to control influenza better by both protecting the children themselves, but also by reducing transmission across the population,” said Dr. Peabody.
In the United States, health care experts recommend the flu vaccination to everyone ages 6 months and above. The peak of the flu virus season usually overlaps with Christmas and New Year, with smaller spikes in cases once February enters.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine as the best form of protection against the flu, advising flu patients to stay at home until the fever has subsided for 24 hours. Frequent hand-washing is also highlighted as a primary prevention tool.