State epidemiologist tells parents to take flu precautions now

State epidemiologist tells parents to take flu precautions now

MOSELLE, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi State Department of Health reported Wednesday a south Mississippi child became the first pediatric flu death of this year’s flu season. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said although it’s early in the season, parents should take every precaution now.

The department said the child with underlying health conditions died from complications. Byers said children with other health issues are at highest risk of flu complications.

“Especially things like asthma and [other] disorders,” Byers said. “Also, children less than 5 can be at risk for severe complications that can occur from influenza.”

Byers said usually the complication is pneumonia.

“Either a primary viral pneumonia, in some cases a secondary bacterial pneumonia,” Byers said.

Unfortunately, he said sometimes fatal flu cases can happen to healthy kids.

"We do see deaths in children from influenza when there are no underlying chronic medical problems," Byers said.

Of course, Byers explained the most important thing a parent can do right now is to get themselves and their children vaccinated. He said don’t forget the basics: washing your hands and covering coughs and sneezes.

“If you or your child do have the flu, keep them out of school or don’t go to work yourself to prevent spreading the flu,” Byers said.

According to Byers, 80 percent of children who have died from the flu were not vaccinated. He said if you are pregnant it’s extremely important to get the flu shot. Byers said it not only protects the mom, it protects the baby after it’s born.

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