Erie County youth succumbs to influenza

An Erie County youth has died from influenza, the first death related to the flu this season in Erie County.

The youth, whose name was not released, died Monday night.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein offered condolences to the family. “My thoughts and condolences are with the family at this difficult time, and I hope that they may find peace,” said Burstein. “Influenza is a serious respiratory illness, and sadly can have devastating consequences.”

County officials would not release the municipality which the youth resided in, citing HIPPA regulations.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, which can cause mild to severe illness; certain populations are at a high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent this illness is by getting a flu vaccination. It is especially important for some people to get vaccinated, including:

People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu, including: people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, morbid obesity, and chronic lung disease; pregnant or post-partum women or women who are breast feeding; and people 65 years and older,

People who are im-munosuppressed,

People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications,

Health care providers, and

Young children, especially those under 2 years of age.

Burstein continued, “I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a flu vaccination. I urge everyone who has not done so to get a flu shot. Vaccinations are quick and are available at numerous locations. This is an effective way to stop the spread of influenza, and this unfortunate incident serves as a reminder that vaccinations are important.”

Signs and symptoms of the flu include: fever or feeling feverish/chills (although not everyone with the flu will have a fever); cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue; some people may experience vomiting or diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that yearly flu vaccination should begin in September and last throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May due to variations in the timing and duration of the season. Although in Western New York the peak flu season is in February/March, influenza seasons are unpredictable; vaccines received throughout the fall and winter will remain viable through the end of June 2013.