Maine child dies of flu; 'bad season' expected

Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 in News

Maine child dies of flu; 'bad season' expected

AUGUSTA -- A central Maine child died last week from influenza, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before the onset of flu symptoms, the child was healthy and had no underlying medical condition, Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine CDC, said on Tuesday.

She declined to release the child's name, age, or hometown.  The death is the first pediatric flu death of the 2012-13 season.  The last time a child in Maine died was in 2011, when a vaccinated child died of flu in York.

No adults have yet died this year, but Pinette says that unlike pediatric deaths, adult deaths are not always reported because there is no legal mandate to do so.

Maine CDC urged people who have not yet been vaccinated against this year's flu strain to get an annual flu shot.  Three strains of the flu are circulating nationally. The flu vaccine is likely to offer good protection against all of them, according to health officials.  "This flu season is shaping up to be worse than last year's," Pinette said.  She said that so far, there have been more cases reported in Maine than in all of last year.  The spread typically peaks in January and February.

The central Maine child who died was sicked with influenza A H3N2, a strain that’s “coming on a little stronger and a little faster and earlier than we anticipated,” Pinette said. She said she did not believe the child had been vaccinated against the flu.

Several other local children also became ill but experienced less severe symptoms, she said.

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