As CDC declares epidemic, two local children reported dead from flu
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
Officials have announced that two local children have died from complications of the flu. This comes just after the Center for Disease Control declared that influenza cases have reached the epidemic threshold across the nation.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department announced Wednesday that one child had died from complications of the flu. The City of Cincinnati Health Department also confirmed that a child, who was living in Hamilton County, died from the flu.
Officials say the Northern Kentucky child's death was the first flu death reported to the Northern Kentucky Health Department this flu season. According to Emily Wherle of the Northern Kentucky Health Department, that child had a chronic health problem that may have made the child more susceptible to the flu.
Cincinnati Health officials haven't released any other information related to the Hamilton County child's death.
"The loss of a child to the flu is heartbreaking, particularly around the holiday season," said Dr. Lynne Saddler, district director of health. "This is a reminder of just how serious influenza can be."
According to the City of Cincinnati Health Department, a total of 143 people have been hospitalized in Cincinnati this year due to the flu. That's much higher than this time last year, when only 16 people had been hospitalized.
More than 1,200 cases of the flu have been reported in Northern Kentucky this year, health officials say. Statewide, Kentucky is reporting widespread flu activity, which means that cases of the flu have reached at least half of the regions in the state.
"We are seeing a very high number of flu cases, particularly in school-age children and the elderly," said Saddler. "Unfortunately, the predominant strain of flu circulating in Northern Kentucky appears to be one that is not matched to this season's vaccine. This means that not only will we have a high number of cases, but we are also facing a strain that has historically been associated with more severe illness and higher mortality, according to the CDC."
Health agencies say these are the best ways to protect yourself against the flu:
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
Stay home if you are sick
Get a flu vaccine
Avoid close contact with sick people
Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze