RICHMOND, Va. (DC News Now) — The Virginia Department of Health reported its first pediatric flu death this season.
Doctors are seeing an uptick in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Last flu season only one child died from the flu in Virginia, and it happened in the summer. The fact that there’s already a death this fall has some alarmed.
“We were very saddened to learn of this first pediatric death this season,” said Lisa Sollot, respiratory disease coordinator with the Virginia Department of Health.
The Virginia Department of Health says a child between five and 12 years old in the Southwest region of the commonwealth died from flu complications.
“RSV and influenza in particular can be more serious in children. RSV specifically in children under five and flu really in, in children under the age of 18,” Sollot said.
Between those two and COVID, it’s a tridemic affecting hospitals across the country, leading to long wait times.
“We’re working very hard and sometimes there’s been a little bit of delay and people have to wait in the emergency room a little longer than we would like before they can be admitted, but we’re managing so far,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.
According to the CDC, flu activity is high in Maryland and very high in D.C and Virginia.
“We are hearing from our healthcare partners in Virginia that they are experiencing increased activity in their emergency rooms and it is putting a strain on the hospital system,” Sollot said.
Experts say the number one way to protect your family is to get a flu shot.
“A lot of us haven’t had influenza or the vaccine and a few years so it’s extra important this year to remind our immune systems what that influenza virus looks like so that it can tap that attack it as soon as it enters our system,” Sollot said.
And continue practicing good hygiene.
“Washing your hands often, covering your cough and sneeze when you’re sick, being mindful of your symptoms and staying home when you’re not feeling well and wearing a mask or avoiding large groups when you’re around many others,” Sollot said.
RSV, COVID, and flu can all appear very similarly with sniffles, cough and maybe a fever, so health officials say it’s important you get tested at home or in a doctor’s office to get treated quickly.