A child died of flu complications just before the Christmas holiday weekend in DuPage County, health officials said Wednesday.
The DuPage County Health Department reported that a teenager died at some point during the week ending Dec. 24, marking the county’s first pediatric flu death so far this season. and the third such death in Illinois, according to the state health department.
Nationally, 61 flu-related pediatric deaths have been reported so far in the 2022-23 season, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DuPage County said further information about the death would not be released in order to “protect confidentiality and privacy.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic flu death. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the child’s family,” Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department, said in a statement. “The flu can have a serious impact on children and adolescents and can be particularly difficult for people of any age with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and people aged 65 and over. Since influenza activity is expected to remain high for several months, now is still a good time for children and adults to get their annual flu shot if they are not already vaccinated and to take steps to protect those who might be more at risk, including staying away. others when we are sick. It’s not too late to get your annual flu shot to help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death from flu.
The department noted that it has seen “early and rapidly increasing influenza activity” since October 2022. While many regions are reporting a decline in activity in recent days, “spread and hospitalizations related to respiratory illnesses, including influenza, remain moderate to high, locally and nationally,” the DCHD said.
After an alarmingly early start, the number of flu hospital admissions began to decline just before the Christmas holiday weekend, according to a nationwide monitoring system run by the CDC. And the percentage of doctor visits due to fever and other flu-like symptoms has dropped for several consecutive weeks.
This trend was similar in Chicago, where the city’s top doctor noted that hospitalizations showed signs of declining for children up to age 4, but emergency room visits at all ages remained high.
“They’re going down for our very young Chicagoans ages 0-4, but they’re still much higher than they were before, and they’re still high for those ages 5-17,” Dr. Allison said. Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. , adding “there’s a lot of flu going on right now”.
Illinois remains in a “high” activity category, according to the CDC.
And the current decline doesn’t mean the flu will recede for the rest of the winter — second outbreaks are common, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.
“Viruses love to fool you when you predict what they’re going to do,” he said.
The annual winter flu season doesn’t usually start until December or January, but it did start in early November. It has been complicated by the simultaneous spread of other viruses, including COVID-19 and RSV.
Flu shots are recommended for almost all Americans age 6 months or older. Health officials say it’s not too late to get vaccinated.