The Nassau County Department of Health was informed by the Nassau County Medical Examiner on Tuesday, Feb. 17 that the presumptive cause of death of a 10-year-old Northside School student over last weekend was influenza A. Confirmatory testing will be performed by New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Laboratory; results are expected later this week. If confirmed, this would be the first death of a Nassau County child since influenza-associated pediatric mortality became reportable in late 2004.
The Nassau County Department of Health recommends that individuals should get a flu vaccination, if they have not had one this season. The Health Department went on to say that flu has just become widespread in New York State and individuals can still protect themselves by getting vaccinated. People who think they have symptoms of the flu are urged to consult their health care providers. Medications are available to treat the flu, the Health Department stated.
Symptoms of flu include fever, headache, muscle aches, weakness, runny nose, sore throat and cough with occasional nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in children. The cough is often severe and prolonged. Most people recover in two to seven days.
Nationally, to date in the 2008/2009 flu season, four children's deaths have been related to influenza, including one in New York City, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the 2007/2008 flu season there were a total of 83 pediatric deaths related to influenza; in the 2006/2007 flu season there were a total of 68 pediatric deaths related to influenza; in the 2005/2006 flu season there were a total of 41 pediatric deaths related to influenza; and in the 2004/2005 flu season there were a total of 39 pediatric deaths related to influenza.
The CDC conducts weekly influenza surveillance from October through mid-May.
In their weekly summary, the New York State Department of Health reports widespread influenza activity across New York State.
For additional information about the flu, call the Nassau County Department of Health Disease Control Division at (516) 227-9700.