AP NEWS

King County child dies of flu

December 19, 2019 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Public health officials say a King County child died of complications from the flu earlier this month — the first known case of a pediatric flu-related death in the county since 2009.

The Seattle Times reports the child was elementary-school age and died in a Pierce County hospital Dec. 15, according to a statement from Public Health — Seattle & King County. Three King County adults also have died since the start of this flu season, which began unusually early and is especially affecting children, health officials said.

Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said the predominant strain circulating right now is the influenza B virus.

Officials are urging people to get vaccinated. There are also anti-viral treatments available after flu-like symptoms appear, which can prevent people from getting sicker or developing complications, Duchin said.

Duchin declined to say whether the child who died had been vaccinated but said each year, 80% to 90% of children who die from the flu were not vaccinated.

Public Health estimates there are 70 to 500 flu-related deaths in King County each year.

People who get the flu can be contagious a day before symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick, according to Public Health. Symptoms include fever, cough, weakness and body aches.