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Virginia Department of Health reports first child death of 2023-24 flu season

The Virginia Department of Health has reported the state’s first child death of the 2023-24 flu season.

Officials said a child, between the ages of 5 and 12 in Virginia’s Eastern region died from complications associated with the flu. VDH will not identify the victim out of respect for the family.

“We at the Virginia Department of Health, are brokenhearted and extend our sympathies to the family of this child during this difficult time,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Shelton. “Even though the flu is common, it can cause serious illness and even death. I urge everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine to do so not only to protect themselves, but to protect those around them.”

According to VDH, the 2023-24 flu season in Virginia is anticipated to be in the typical range of severity. Virginia reported five influenza-associated deaths among children during the 2022-23 flu season.

VDH officials said influenza activity is elevated and is expected to increase in Virginia as the weather becomes colder. According to officials, for the week ending Dec. 23, emergency department and urgent care visits due to flu-like illness were very high (6.9% of total visits), especially among young children and school-aged children (14.7% and 13.2% of visits, respectively).

To locate a seasonal flu vaccine near you, you can visit this website or contact your local health department.

VDH recommends taking three actions to prevent the flu:

  • Everyone six months & older should receive a yearly flu vaccine, consulting your healthcare provider as needed.
  • Practice good preventive health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand), and staying home when you feel sick; and
  • If you do become sick with the flu, seek healthcare early in your illness if necessary. Antivirals prescribed by a healthcare provider are a treatment option for some patients and can help prevent serious flu complications.

For further information, call (804) 864-8141 and visit the VDH Respiratory Diseases website for data and additional information on respiratory diseases in Virginia.

Source: WSLS News 10

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