Virginia Department of Health reports first pediatric flu death of the season

Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 17:15:34-05

RICHMOND, Va. — A teenager from Northern Virginia has died from complications from the flu, the Virginia Department of Health announced Tuesday.

Health officials say this is the state's first influenza-associated pediatric death from the 2019-20 flu season.

To protect the family's privacy, the health department says they will not provide any further information about the teen's death.

“We offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to this child’s family,” said State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A., “Sadly, this is a tragic reminder that flu can be a serious illness, and we encourage everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and others.”

VDH says the flu has been widespread in Virginia since December 2019. It has investigated a total of 61 flu outbreaks during the 2019-20 flu season through February 1 and has received reports of 773 pneumonia- and influenza-associated deaths.

On average, health officials say three flu-related pediatric deaths are reported each year in Virginia.

Flu activity in the state typically peaks between December and February, but it can remain elevated into the spring, VDH says.

The health department recommends taking the following steps to prevent the flu:

  • Get vaccinated every year
  • Practice good public health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water on using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand) and staying home when you feel sick
  • Take antivirals as prescribed if you do become sick with the flu

To locate a seasonal flu vaccine clinic near you, visit the Virginia Department of Health's website or contact your local health department. For more information on the flu in Virginia, click here.