This image from the CDC illustrates the very beginning stages of an influenza (flu) infection. Illustration provided by the CDC

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SW Michigan child third to die of flu in state this season

Published 11:15am Thursday, January 3, 2013

A 6-year-old Southwest Michigan child died last week from the flu, becoming the third child to die from flu-related illness in the state this flu season.

Angela Minicuci, of the Michigan Department of Community Health, said a 6-month-old from Southwest Michigan and a 13-year-old from the central part of the state are the other confirmed pediatric deaths this season.

Pediatric death rates fluctuate from year to year, Minicuci said. No children died from the flu last season, but six died the year prior.

“It’s not unheard of to have pediatric deaths, but it is rare,” Minicuci said. “So when it does happen, especially this early in the season, we highly encourage parents to get their children vaccinated as well as themselves.”

Since the start of the flu season Sept. 30, there have been 252 lab-confirmed cases of flu in Michigan. At this time last year, there were four confirmed cases.

“That is a much higher number than we typically see,” Minicuci said. “We don’t usually see that volume of cases until late February in Michigan.”

Minicuci said it is important to note the flu isn’t just affecting Michigan.

“This is a national issue,” she said. “All states have seen a much higher rise in the number of cases this flu season than they typically would. It’s not to say that the season started earlier — we’ve just had a much heavier start than we usually do.”

Minicuci said her department doesn’t collect data on the number of adult deaths due to flu.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting widespread influenza in 31 states for the week ending Dec. 22.

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