New York's child under four dies of flu while health officials brace themselves for a deadly season of the virus
- Monroe County health officials confirmed that one child had developed there and died of the flu
- New York State health officials have also confirmed one death, suggesting that the child in Monroe County may be the first
- So far, only two pediatric deaths have been confirmed in the US this year
- The first such mortality, in California in September and a possibly poorly-matched vaccine, suggested a bad flu for experts this year
A toddler in New York died of the flu, health officials in Monroe County reported.
The child, who was less than four years old, is the first confirmed case of flu in the province's age group and, according to the latest state data, appears to be the first infant mortality rate in New York.
The flu season in the US officially starts in early October and has a long peak that extends from December to March.
Health officials are urging Americans to get their flu shots before Halloween, with temperatures dropping and virus activity increasing.
So far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of two children have died from the flu in the US.
US officials urge parents to have all children older than six months vaccinated against flu after New York has reported its first pediatric death from flu (file)
The primary victims of flu are very young and very old, and all deaths from the virus are difficult to keep up with.
Very young and old people, as well as people with underlying disorders, have a weaker immune system, so their bodies are more vulnerable to and are hit harder by flu and other infections.
The CDC only requires states to report infant mortality, so these become an important measure of how mild or severe a flu season is.
This year the flu started claiming lives early.
On September 12, health officials in Riverside County, California, outside of San Diego, reported that a child under the age of four had died of flu.
It was an ominous sign and experts warned that the unusually early death could suggest that the US would be in a special flu season.
Since then, the CDC has only confirmed the death of another child. It is not clear whether this is the same death as reported by Monroe County.
The CDC is expected to report new flu data on Thursday.
Every year countless flu tribes circle the world. Some are more active and more common than others at different times and places.
For example, during the record-breaking 2017-2018 flu season, a species known as influenza A (H3N2) was dominant and particularly aggressive for the first half of the flu season.
But the tables were running in March, and B viruses shot from then until May.
And often the species that are most commonly reported in adults are not the same as those in children.
This year, one of the confirmed child's deaths was caused by influenza A, and the other was due to influenza B, the CDC said.
Officials insist that the vaccine is safe, does not cause flu and is the best way to prevent a potentially life-threatening infection.
The flu shot is developed differently each year, based on the tensions that health officials think are most likely to circulate.
For the 2019-2020 season, the four flu shots are quadrivalent, or designed to protect against four flu strains.
The shot can be given to children older than six months.
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