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Orange County youth dies from influenza

February 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
O.C. health officials are investigating what could be the first pediatric death from influenza this season.The flu has been spreading like a wildfire.

Orange County parent Kristen Daleiden has a 17-month-old daughter, Jade, and she concerned about the severity of this flu season.

"I just got over the flu and she did not catch it and I am grateful for that," said Daleiden.

Parents everywhere are taking extra steps to protect their children.

"Washing your hands and keeping all of your toys and everything as clean as you possibly can," said Daleiden.

An Orange County child died in January and it may be the first flu related death this year in California.

"We know that influenza was a factor in the illness, but we do not have a final cause of death yet," said Howard Sutter, O.C. Health Care Agency.

Pediatric deaths from the flu are rare. Last year only two children died of flu related complications in all of Orange County.

Health officials have seen an increase of flu activity this year.

"There is another big virus that occurs in the winter, the RSV virus, and every few years those viruses kind of hit our community at the same time and that is happening this year. So we are starting to see a lot of flu and a lot of RSV," said Dr. Ameer Mody, Pediatrician.

More and more patients with the flu means more children with the flu. Kids run a higher risk of flu related complications. Doctors warn about signs of trouble beyond the common flu.

"How your child is breathing, if they are working hard to breath, if your child is vomiting a lot, dehydrated, if your child is acting lethargic, if they're sleepy those are all important warning signs that something severe is going on," said Dr. Mody.

Flu cases have increased in Orange County as they seem to have in the rest of the state and nation, Sutter said.

Physicians, labs and hospitals are reporting an increase, he said. Flu shots are still available from the HCA for individuals at risk of severe complications from influenza, Sutter said.

Eyewitness News reporter Micah Ohlman and CNS contributed to this report.

 

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