Newsroom > DHHS News Release
For Immediate Release
February 25, 2016
Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356
Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, 402-529-2233
Three Rivers Public Health Department, 402-727-5396
Child Flu-related Death Reported to DHHS
Note: Sound bites on this topic are available. Links are below.
Lincoln – The first flu-related death so far this season was reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. It was a young child in the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department area (Burt, Cuming, Madison and Stanton counties) who also spent time in the Three Rivers Public Health Department area (Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties).
“Children can be more susceptible to complications and this is a sad reminder of the potential seriousness of flu infections. Our thoughts are with the family," said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS.
While test results showed that a seasonal flu virus contributed to the death, the child also tested positive for several other respiratory viruses.
It's not unusual for there to be some child deaths during a normal flu season, but they have been rare in Nebraska. Nationally, 13 children have died from flu this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Our department expresses condolences to the family in this unfortunate situation," said Gina Uhing, Health Director for Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department. “Vaccination and preventive measures like washing your hands, covering your cough, staying home if you’re sick and avoiding people who are sick can help protect children and adults from the flu.”
Flu continues to circulate at moderate levels in Nebraska. State health officials say people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and tiredness should contact their local physician for an evaluation.
“While most people recover from the flu, it can also be a life-threatening illness,” said Terra Uhing, Health Director for Three Rivers Public Health Department. “There is prescription medication that can be used to treat the flu. It can lessen the symptoms and shorten the length of illness.”
It's not too late to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it’s extremely important they receive vaccine:
• Young children
• Adults 65 years of age or older
• Pregnant women
• People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurological conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
DHHS officially started flu surveillance Oct. 4. Surveillance shows where the flu is and how fast it’s spreading across the state.
DHHS uses multiple surveillance systems to track flu viruses, including sentinel physicians who report the number of people with flu-like illness weekly, lab tests, school surveillance, hospital data, emergency department data and death reporting.
Links to sound bites from State Epidemiologist Dr. Tom Safranek