Omaha, Neb. - Health officials say a 5-year-old child in Nebraska has died from influenza as an outbreak of the respiratory viral illness blankets the country.
In a news release received Wednesday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the death, saying the child was from central Nebraska. It marks the state's first pediatric death from the flu this season.
“We started seeing increased flu activity earlier than usual this year and flu continues to circulate at very high levels,” says Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “During a severe flu season, we see more illness, hospitalizations and sadly more deaths.”
Since October, 22 people have died from the flu in Nebraska. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 30 children have died nationwide from flu this season.
The department recommends flu shots for people 6 months and older.
Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, prescribed by a health care provider, should be used as early as possible in people who have flu-like illness. For those who aren’t sick, preventive measures along with flu vaccine can help prevent flu and other winter illnesses.
Protect yourself from the flu by:
Washing your hands often
Avoiding contact with people who are sick
Staying home from work, family gatherings and social functions if you’re sick
Covering your mouth and nose when you cough with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands
Eating healthy and get plenty of rest
While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it's extremely important they receive vaccine and it's not too late to be vaccinated.
Adults 65 years of age or older
People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
For more flu information, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/flu or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu.