Flu kills a record high 105 US children this season

Danielle Zoellner
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The flu has killed a record 105 US children so far this season, officials revealed on Friday.

This week alone 13 children died from the flu, bringing the total child flu deaths from the virus to 105, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly data report stated.

The new data from the CDC reveals this is the second highest flu-related deaths among children on record by the organization in one season. The highest recorded deaths comes from 2009 during the flu pandemic.

Flu season has been "unusual" this year with a higher number of children and young adults getting the viral infection. Typically, the virus hits the elderly population the most.

Dr. Buddy Creech, an associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN the prevalence of influenza B, which most commonly impacts children, this season could be the cause of the higher numbers.

"This is the first time in 25 years where [influenza B] became so common so early," he said.

It is believed the peak of influenza B at the start of flu season is what resulted in the number of children getting the virus. One problem with the strain, Dr Creech said, is the symptoms are hard to determine.

"Often influenza B is more likely to cause gastrointestinal symptoms than influenza A, though both can in young children," he said. "Some parents don't recognize these symptoms as part of influenza...which may delay thinking of influenza and delay treatment."

Another reason for the high flu-related deaths among children could be because flu season is more severe this year, leading to higher totals overall.

The CDC also released its interim flu vaccine effectiveness (VE) estimates on Thursday to inform the public on how the shot is working to curb the virus. It labeled the current flu shot to be "substantial protection" for children ages six months to 17 years old.

"The VE findings reported today provide important evidence that 2019-20 flu vaccines are working to protect children. This flu season has been especially bad for children," the report stated.

An anti-vaccination movement has rooted itself in the US, but experts remain firm on imploring people to get the shot each season.

"[The] CDC recommends that everyone six months and older be vaccinated against flu if they have not already."

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