Ohio reports first child flu death this season

The victim is a 4-year-old boy in southwest Ohio.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio -- A 4-year-old boy is the first child to die from the flu in Ohio this season.

The Ohio Department of Health reported his death on Wednesday morning. The boy is from Montgomery County in southwest Ohio.

“Flu is difficult to predict,” said ODH Medical Director Dr. Clint Koenig. “It's not possible to say precisely when this flu season will peak or end or how severe it will be. That's why getting the flu vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu for everyone 6 months and older. Flu vaccination also can reduce the severity of illness if you do get sick.”

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The ODH also said there were 1,750 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in the first week of January, which is a "significant increase" compared to the 925 in the last week of December. There have been a total of 3,854 total flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio since the season began in October.

"So far, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been the most common flu viruses circulating this season, according to CDC. H3N2-predominant flu seasons have been associated with more severe illness, especially among children and adults age 65 and older," ODH said in a press release. "Vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 viruses has been around 30 percent. Vaccine effectiveness against other circulating flu viruses has been about 60 percent for H1N1 viruses, and around 50 percent for influenza B viruses. A study also done on flu vaccination said that it can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza."

Flu has hit widespread activity in 46 states, including Ohio.

Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Flu vaccination is available at most healthcare providers' offices, local health departments and retail pharmacies. There are no flu vaccine shortages across Ohio.

Other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu include: Washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick.

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