Maine has recorded its first flu-related death of a child in the 2019-20 season, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The case involved a child younger than 5 who lived in southern Maine, was diagnosed with influenza B and had not been vaccinated against the flu this season, according to Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long.
The state has also reported 19 deaths of adults this season that are at least partially attributable to the flu. Deaths are considered to be flu-related when the person has flu symptoms and a positive test result for flu. The typical flu season runs from late September to May.
Maine CDC declined to release other information about the child who died. “We express our deep condolences to the family for their loss,” agency director Nirav Shah said.
This year’s flu season has been more severe than last year’s so far. The state had recorded 14 flu-related deaths at this time last year. There have also been more outbreaks this year — 62 compared with 30 at this time last year.
The state has recorded nearly 6,000 positive flu tests so far this season, compared with about 3,900 at the same time last year. The number of flu hospitalizations, however, has been similar: 313 so far this year compared with 336 at this time last year, according to Maine CDC flu surveillance reports.
The last recorded death of a Maine child who had contracted influenza came last April in Washington County. Before that, the last time Maine had a confirmed flu-related death of a child was in March 2016.
The flu can cause a fever of 100 degrees or higher as well as a cough or sore throat. Young children and adults older than 65 are at higher risk for a serious illness resulting from the flu.
Maine is advising families to seek immediate medical care if their children are having difficulty breathing, bluish lips or face, chest pain or other symptoms.