The Mississippi State Department of Health reported the first confirmed pediatric influenza death for the 2016-2017 flu season on Friday.
The agency said in a press release that the death occurred in an individual who lived in Central Mississippi. Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18 years of age.
Including this reported death, there have been a total of 15 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in the 2007-2008 flu season.
“We know, unfortunately, that influenza infections can lead to serious complications and in some cases, death, even for healthy children and young adults,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in the press release. “We are now in peak flu season, and it’s vitally important to get a flu shot if you haven’t done so already. All indicators suggest that the current flu vaccine is a good match for the flu strains in Mississippi.”
Nationwide, an estimated 3,000-49,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
In Mississippi, only pediatric flu deaths are reportable.
While individual flu cases are not reported to the state Department of Health, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.
Healthcare providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the state Public Health Laboratory. The Health Department uses this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, extreme fatigue. Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. More severe symptoms and death can also occur.