LINCOLN, Neb. – A child flu-related death in central Nebraska has been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. State health officials say Nebraska along with the rest of the nation is experiencing a severe flu season.
“We started seeing increased flu activity earlier than usual this year and flu continues to circulate at very high levels,” says Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “During a severe flu season, we see more illness, hospitalizations and sadly more deaths.”
Nationally, 30 children have died from flu this season according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most children recover from the flu, some can have severe and sometimes fatal infections, but that has been rare in Nebraska. So far, there have been a total of 22 flu-related deaths statewide - 21 adults and one child.
Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, prescribed by a health care provider, should be used as early as possible in people who have flu-like illness. For those who aren’t sick, preventive measures along with flu vaccine can help prevent flu and other winter illnesses.
Protect yourself from the flu by:
- Washing your hands often
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick
- Staying home from work, family gatherings and social functions if you’re sick
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands
- Eating healthy and get plenty of rest
- Don’t smoke
Vaccination plays a critical role in the fight against the flu. It can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work and school and flu-related hospitalizations.
The CDC recommends flu vaccine 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 and it's not too late to be vaccinated.
- 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, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities