Two Oregon children die of flu this season, public health official says


Two young children have died of the flu in Oregon within the past month as the illness continues to spread across the Pacific Northwest, a public health official tells KATU News on Thursday.

Jonathan Modie of the Oregon Health Authority confirms that a child under five years old has passed away from the flu within the last several weeks. They said a second child, younger than 10 years old, died within the past month.

According to the OHA records, there were no pediatric flu deaths through the last season, and only one child died of the flu in each of the previous three seasons.

The children's deaths haven’t been added to the OHA’s weekly update on the flu, which says there have been nearly 6,000 confirmed cases of influenza statewide.

Of those cases, 56 were pediatric patients. Roughly half of those hospitalized by the flu in Oregon are age 65 or older.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting widespread cases of influenza across the nation, with 13 other pediatric deaths since October 1, 2017.

Washington State has had 29 total flu-related deaths so far this season.*

Health officials say that emergency rooms in areas across the region are overcrowded from people wanting to get their flu-like symptoms checked out.

Officials ask you to call your health care provider before coming in to the emergency department, unless you or your child are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Confusion or can't be woken up
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
  • Blue lips or skin rash
  • Unable to drink or keep liquids down

(Just children)

  • Fever in an infant younger than 3 months
  • Excessive irritability

Health officials say the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a shot. Dr. Melnick said the season can last several months, and the vaccine can take two weeks to be effective.

You can also cut down on spreading the flu by washing your hands often, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.

*Note: Modie tells KATU News they do not publish the adult flu fatalities as there is the potential for other health conditions that might have contributed to the deaths.

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