Dallas County Reports First Pediatric Flu Death, More May Follow

Dallas County reported its first pediatric flu death and says two more possible pediatric deaths may follow, pending confirmation from the medical examiner’s office.

The patient was 16 years of age and a resident of Dallas, Dallas County Health and Human Services said. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, the agency does not provide additional identifying information.

“This flu death is another tragic reminder of the seriousness of the flu. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting an annual flu vaccine and practicing prevention measures,” said Dr. Philip Huang, DCHHS Director and Health Authority.

The agency also reported the 11th flu-related death in the county this week. The Dallas patient, the county’s 10th adult death, was 34 years old without any underlying medical conditions.

“These flu deaths continue to remind us of the seriousness of the flu,” Huang said.

The most recent county influenza surveillance report was for the week ending Jan. 11. Flu tests returned positive results 25.9% of the time (up from the previous week’s 24%, with 111 flu-related hospitalizations. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) tests are also reporting positive at a rate of 11.5%.

Overall, federal health officials said Texas is among the states with high numbers of reported flu cases.  Huang and other health experts said it’s still not too late to get a flu vaccine.

“Getting flu vaccine is especially important for persons with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease-to decrease their risk of severe flu illness,” Huang said, adding that preventive measures also include frequent hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or your elbow, and staying home if you have flu-like symptoms.

“If you do get sick with the flu, take antiviral medications if your doctor prescribes them,” Huang added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all persons aged six months and older, with rare exceptions.

Flu vaccines for adults and children are available at all DCHHS immunization clinic sites at no cost.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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