State reports first child flu-related death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state reports a West Virginia child has died from the flu.

It’s the first pediatric flu-related death in the current flu season.

Dr. Ayne Amjad

“The loss of a child is profound,” acting state Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said in a Friday news release. “While most individuals recover from the flu, it can be a serious and life-threatening illness in both children and adults, especially those with existing health conditions and compromised immunity. We extend our deepest sympathies to this family.”

According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, children under the age of 5 are more susceptible to getting flu and developing complications. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are also at a higher risk.

“Now is the ideal time to get your flu shot, as West Virginia is experiencing a historically early start to the flu season. The flu vaccine is the first line of defense to protect yourself, and people around you who are vulnerable to the serious effects of the flu. We urge all West Virginians 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated against the flu,” said Shannon McBee, State Epidemiologist.

McBee told MetroNews earlier this week there are more early flu cases this year.

“Patients seeking out-patient care for flu-like symptoms in West Virginia is at 3.92 percent, which indicates an onset of flu season here,” McBee said. “For us, to see this many cases of flu this early, we’re in for a rough season I think.”

West Virginia typically doesn’t peak with flu cases until mid-February, McBee said.

The state DHHR did not release specific details concerning the child’s death, “to protect the family’s privacy,” the agency said.

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