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Ingham County Health Department confirms pediatric flu death

LANSING, Mich. Public health officials are deeply saddened to confirm a local child died from seasonal influenza in January. State officials confirmed the cause of death after thorough review late last week.

The child was the fifth in the state to die from influenza during the 2019-20 flu season. To respect the family’s privacy, the Ingham County Health Department will not provide any additional information about the child.

“We offer our deepest condolences, but know there are no words that can lessen this family’s grief and our community’s loss,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail.

To date, 168 pediatric flu-related deaths have been reported across the U.S. during the 2019-20 flu season. These are known influenza-related deaths, confirmed by testing.  This is the highest number of pediatric influenza deaths reported in more than a decade.

Fortunately, influenza activity has significantly dropped due to social distancing efforts related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response. Changes in health-seeking behaviors due to the pandemic have also likely affected the 2019-20 flu season. 

“We hope that the changes in habits surrounding COVID-19 will have an impact on future flu seasons,” said Vail. “Many of these deaths are preventable, and many of the measures being emphasized to protect ourselves from COVID-19 are the very precautions we urge people to take every flu season.”

To help prevent flu, people should wash their hands, avoid interaction with those who are ill, and get the flu vaccine annually.

Note: There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.