Child's death a reminder of influenza dangers

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Parents asked to take caution with child's flu symptoms
Parents are being asked to take caution with their child's flu symptoms as the incubation period for the virus could take days.

School officials here giving parents the same advice as healthcare professionals.

While most people recover from the flu, it can also be deadly.

It's vital to do what you can to protect yourself.

Local urgent care centers and emergency rooms are seeing a lot of flu activity.

Dr. Zach Kassutto, an emergency physician at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, says if you haven't been vaccinated yet, it's not too late.

"Flu shots are not 100% protective but it reduces the chance of you having it, of spreading it and may reduce the severity of the illness in yourself or those around you," says Dr. Kassutto.

School officials in Marple Newtown confirm Matthew Wzorek, the happy 2nd grader at Worrall Elementary died due to complications from influenza type B, which is known to hit kids harder.

His teacher also said to have influenza B.

Keep tabs on flu activity in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

And because flu can be contagious before symptoms start, others at the school have likely been exposed.

The C-D-C reports nationwide 92 children have died from the flu this season, the majority with type B.

Most were not vaccinated.

Delaware Health Department,which tracks the vaccination status of confirmed flu, says 70% of children with confirmed flu were not vaccinated.

But both A and B are circulating in our area, and the B strain still dominates in New Jersey.

And Dr. Kassutto says either can cause severe illness, especially for high risk people.

That includes seniors, young children, pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical problems.

"Things that worry us would be especially breathing problems, beyond cough and runny nose," he says.

"... Not taking liquids, not peeing at least once every 6 to 8 hours, the child isn't waking up or is extremely irritable," he continued.

Those are signs to seek medical care right away.

The most important steps to protect yourself include good hand-washing, disinfecting common surfaces, and it's important if you are sick to stay home and away from others.

If you have severe symptoms, you should be seen by a healthcare provider.

If it's within the first 48 hours, you may be able to get an antiviral medication.

It can help shorten/ lessen severity.