A 4-year-old girl who died a few days ago in Perris, Riverside County, California, tested positive for the flu virus. The child also suffered from other chronic disorders that may have aggravated her condition. However, this is the first paediatric death due to the flu virus of the new 2019-20120 season: usually the disease does not start spreading until late October November.
A note from the Riverside County Health Department notes: “We should never forget that flu can kill. This is why we always recommend the vaccine for everyone. This early death may be the sign of a particularly aggressive flu season. “
The 2019-20 flu season could be particularly heavy. Although it is difficult to predict the progression of the infections, a series of early signals on the aggressiveness of incoming viruses are already alarming American experts. They suggest to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and in any case no later than the end of October.
The data emerging from the Southern hemisphere – where the season has just ended – and in Australia, would indicate the prevalence of the particularly strong and dangerous H3N2 viral strain. Moreover, the first infant death occurred in California, where a 4-year-old girl died due to complications of the seasonal illness, triggered the alert: “A death so early compared to the usual arrival of viruses, suggests a season flu worse than usual” noted Cameron Kaiser, the county’s health officer who killed the child.
“It is important that people get vaccinated before the flu spreads in the communities” wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the latest guidelines, urging the vaccine for everyone from 6 months upward. The immunisations offered this year in the US will all be quadrivalent.
Last year the vaccine only worked in 37% of cases in adults and in 61% of cases in children. The late arrival of the H3N2 viral strain had surprised specialists. But top expert William Shaffner pointed out that even partial protection is sufficient to avoid the most serious complications.