California reports first child death from flu

California reports first child death from flu

California public health officials on Friday reported the first death of a child in this year’s flu season, and warned that it could be a much more relentless flu season than that of last year’s.

Dr. Karen Smith, the chief of the California Public Health Department (CPHD), said in a statement that this year’s flu season has already claimed a total of 14 lives of people under the age of 65. The figure is notably larger than three deaths recorded by the same time in 2015.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Dr. Michael Neely warned that the number of flu-related illnesses and deaths could continue to soar for the next few weeks.

Referring to the child’s death, CPHD said, “This is a tragic reminder that the flu is a serious illness for people of all ages and kills thousands of Americans each year … If it keeps going up at this rate and stays up then we will see a lot more cases this year.”

The rate of hospitalization for flu-related illnesses in the state is at its highest level in more than a decade, excluding 2009’s H1N1 epidemic that caused awfully widespread illnesses. The Golden State has thus far seen 83 flu-related outbreaks, nearly twice as many as in a typical year.

Flu is a common viral infection but it can be deadly in high-risk groups, such as children and the elderly. Common symptoms include fever, chills, cough, runny nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue.