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‘Incredibly saddened:’ Milwaukee Health Department reports 1st pediatric flu death of 2020

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MILWAUKEE -- Officials with the Milwaukee Health Department on Tuesday, Feb. 18 confirmed the influenza-associated death of a Milwaukee child -- the first pediatric flu death reported to the MHD for the 2019-2020 flu season and the third in Wisconsin.

MHD officials on Tuesday reported more than 90 pediatric flu deaths nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are incredibly saddened to learn that a child has died of complications related to influenza, our thoughts are with the child’s family during this difficult time,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Jeanette Kowalik in a news release.

According to the MHD, 400 influenza-related hospitalizations were reported for the 2019-2020 flu season in Milwaukee as of Feb. 18.

State health officials on Thursday, Feb. 13 confirmed the second pediatric flu death in Wisconsin -- a 12-year-old boy from Verona.

Influenza is among the most common respiratory illness in the United States, infecting millions of people and killing tens of thousands each year. Though common, the flu can lead to hospitalization and death, especially in vulnerable populations, including infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

“It’s not too late to get your flu shot” added Commissioner Kowalik in the release. “In order to protect yourself, your family, and our community, I encourage everyone 6 months of age to get vaccinated if they haven’t already."

In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials recommend taking other preventative measures such as washing your hands often with soap and water, using a tissue or your sleeve to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and staying home from work or school if you are feeling sick.

The flu vaccine remains available through local health care providers and retail pharmacies. In addition, the MHD is offering free flu vaccines to individuals 6 months of age and older during walk-in immunization clinics, while supplies last.

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