State’s 1st flu fatality of season is Pinal County child

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Pinal County Health Services announced that a child has died from influenza in the county. RSV also was a factor in the child's death. [istockphoto.com]

A child has died of influenza in Pinal County, the first death in Arizona this flu season, according to Pinal County Public Health Services District.

The district noted that both influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus were contributing factors in the child’s death.

“This tragic situation, unfortunately, reminds us that flu can cause serious illness and death,” said Dr. Tascha Spears, health director of the district. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to this child’s family.”

Flu season started earlier than usual this year, according to the district. Already, hospitals are significantly impacted by the number of cases in emergency rooms. Pinal County has seen 172 lab-confirmed influenza cases and statewide there have been 4,552 cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine, which provides protection from hospitalization and death. It is important to get the vaccine as soon as possible because it takes an immune system two weeks to build a defense against the flu.

The public also can protect itself and others from the flu by these preventive measures: Avoid touching your mouth and nose, wash hands frequently, cover coughs in your sleeve and stay home when feeling sick.

Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone with flu will have a fever).
  • Cough.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny or stuffy nose.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Headaches.
  • Fatigue.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).

Not only is flu circulating throughout the U.S., including Pinal County, but RSV and COVID-19 are significantly increasing. All three of these respiratory illnesses have similar signs and symptoms.

Those who believe they may have the flu or any other respiratory illness, and who are at high risk for complications, are urged to contact their health-care provider. Antiviral medications may help, especially if taken within 48 hours of the onset of illness.

There is no vaccine for RSV but those who would like to schedule a flu shot or other immunizations may call Pinal County Public Health at 1-866-960-0633 or go to vaccines.gov for the nearest vaccine-provider location.