Tarrant County

Tarrant County Reports 1st Pediatric Flu Death Since 2015

Child also suffered from underlying health conditions, county officials say

Generic flu shot
Telemundo 39

A child has died from the flu in Tarrant County for the first reported time since 2015, county health officials say.

The death is the fourth from pediatric flu in Texas this year, according to Tarrant County Public Health.

"Because of the sensitive nature of the information, we can't share any other details, other than to say that the child had underlying health conditions," said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. "The patient tested positive for Influenza B, which is circulating early and predominantly this season."

Tarrant County has seen a sharp increase over the previous three flu seasons in the number of patient visits due to influenza-like illnesses this fall, according to a chart released by the county health department.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the flu is considered 'widespread' in the state at this point.

Dr. Suzanne Whitworth, Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children's, said the flu season typically lasts through the end of March.

"Some years, it starts in November and this is an earlier year so we're seeing more flu this year at this time than we have in the past few years," Dr. Whitworth said.

The hospital reports between the week of Nov. 24 through Nov. 30, 964 children were tested for the flu. Of those children, 231 tested positive for Influenza B and 24 more for Influenza A. At Cook Children's specifically, the medical center was under a 'Facility Alert' due to an extremely high census in November with nearly double the number of patients they typically see in the emergency room some days due to seasonal illnesses.

"I think the biggest thing is for people to still get their flu shot. There is still time and that is your best way to prevent getting the flu this season," Whitworth said.

Taneja says aside from the flu shot, it's also important to cover coughs and sneezes. Proper hand-washing with warm water and soap is also crucial, he said.

"We've kind of become complacent because we have these alcohol gel sanitizers everywhere, so we think….oh we've sanitized our hands it's good. Well, it still keeps the germs on your hands even though they might be dead," he told NBC 5.

Health officials say another important tip is to stay home if you are sick from the flu or are experiencing symptoms to prevent a possible outbreak.

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