HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is following the flu after the Virginia Department of Health reported the first child to die from the virus in the commonwealth this season.
Every year thousands of people die from the flu. So far this season, 78 children have died nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This year, as in years past is proving to be busy for pediatric hospitals. Doctor John Harrington at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk told WAVY.com there are many flu patients at children’s hospitals right now.
“We are racked and stacked and packed throughout the state and throughout the country in most of the pediatric hospitals,” he said.
Harrington says sometimes new patients have to wait a bit for an empty bed at CHKD.
“Thoughts are that it’s going to be highly active for weeks on end right now,” he said.
Harrington revealed that 30 to 40 percent of kids tested at 28 area pediatrician offices this week are positive for either influenza A or B. Both strains are going around right now. The CDC reports 52 deaths associated with influenza B viruses this season and 26 deaths with influenza A viruses.
The state department of health will not reveal which type a Virginia teen died from, or whether there were underlying medical conditions.
“If you have asthma, if you have diabetes, if you have cardiac disease, you’re just more likely to die from the flu as a kid,” Harrington explained.
That’s why he recommends the flu shot.
Harrington confirmed this year’s vaccine does protect against both influenza A and B.
He also advises frequent hand washing for everyone and especially those most at risk because.
“You only have to be within five or six feet of someone to spread the flu,” Harrington said.
So, one simple sneeze or cough is all it takes.