A Washington state child under the age of five died from flu-related complications according to the Tacoma Pierce Health Department, and doctors say it’s the same strain of virus that led to the death of a child in King County last week.
In Oregon, the Health Authority reported one “influenza-associated pediatric mortality” in the state between Dec. 8 and 14. Delia Hernández, a spokesperson for the agency, said it does not disclose the age of the child or county of residence “to avoid breaching patient confidentiality.”
“Sadly, flu strains currently in circulation this season have hit the young very hard,” said Nigel Turner, division director for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. KIRO-7 reported the agency said the child who died there also suffered from underlying health conditions.
Doctors in Pierce County say a B-strain of the flu virus was the cause of death for the child there, and they say it’s the same strain which also lead to the death of a King County child last week. It was the first child flu-related death there in 10 years.
“This is the second pediatric influenza death, and we are seeing a lot of influenza in children, which is unusual this time of year and reflects the strain of influenza that we’re seeing in the community this season,” said Turner.
Flu activity appears to be getting worse in Oregon. In the week of Dec. 8 to 14, the week the child died, the number of emergency department visits for influenza-like illnesses was up 1% and the number of positive influenza tests in the state was up about 8%.
Doctors say getting the flu shot should protect you against the new flu strain. They say the vaccine widens the circle of protection for those around you.