More kids have died from Influenza (a virus that causes “the flu”) because they also had a staph infection, according to a newly released report urging parents to get their child the flu shot.
The study appears in the October issue of the Journal Pediatrics.
While the flu is rarely life threatening or fatal in children, an estimated 20,000 children are hospitalized each year from complications.
Pediatric flu deaths have been increasingly associated with other bacterial infections including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Researchers studied 166 pediatric flu deaths reported to the CDC between 2004 and 2007. At that time there was a dramatic increase in flu deaths in which the child also had a staph infection, most reportedly MRSA.
More than half of the children who died were between the ages of 5 and 17 and had been healthy until developing the flu.
“Influenza was often rapidly fatal with nearly half of the children dying within the first 72 hours of the onset of symptoms and 75 percent died within seven days, wrote Lyn Finelli, of the CDC.
The 2008-2009 flu season is about to start and researchers stress the importance of flu vaccinations. Children six months and older are eligible to get a flu shot.
Officials modify vaccines each year according to strains they predict are most likely to circulate that season and therefore the CDC recommends getting an annual flu vaccination.
Parents should take children to the doctor when they experience flu symptoms and signs of other health complications. These could include no thirst or appetite, extreme fatigue and in older kids complaints about generally feeling ill.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests pregnant women who get a flu shot helps to prevent most cases of influenza from developing during the first six months of their babies’ lives.
“This is the first study to definitively show that – immunizing the mother protects the infant,” said Dr. Mark Steinhoff, a pediatrician with John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
An 18-year-old student from Kissimmee, Florida died last week from a powerful strain of staph infection.
Liberty High School senior Alonzo Smith, a football player had gone to Osceola Regional Medical Center on Friday complaining of back spasms. He returned to the hospital on Sunday following a reaction to the treatment. He died from a staph infection later Sunday night.
A health department spokesman said they believe Smith contracted the MRSA in the community, not in the hospital. #