Flu outbreak continues with a rising number of child deaths

By Yvaine Ye
Medill Reports

This year’s flu outbreak is hitting the country hard. The death toll among children is particularly high. It rose to 53, after 16 more children died from the flu last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The circulating flu virus, H3N2, is particularly virulent. It’s more contagious and fatal, especially in young children and older adults, said Allison Bartlett, a pediatrician at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. The hospital has seen a surging number of flu cases since December. The number of patients who test positive for influenza is almost three times more than normal, Dr. Bartlett said.

This year’s version of the flu shot is, in general, not very effective against H3N2. However, doctors still encourage people to get the shot, because any amount of protection is helpful.

Photo at top: flu vaccine for pediatric use (Yvaine Ye/MEDILL)