By Marin Wolf
Dallas County Health and Human Services has reported its first pediatric flu death this year as flu cases continue to climb unseasonably early.
The patient, who was not an infant, had underlying health conditions, said Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.
The county had no pediatric flu deaths during the 2021-22 flu season as COVID-19 public health measures kept the contagious virus at bay. But that changed as masking and social distancing dwindled in the last year.
Pediatric hospitals are dealing with an onslaught of patients with the flu and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. Experts say children are finally catching the viruses they hadn’t contracted during the height of the pandemic.
While most older children and adults fare just fine against the flu or RSV, some populations are at risk for serious complications from the viruses. Infants, children with compromised immune systems and the elderly are more likely to experience severe disease from the flu.
Symptoms of the flu, RSV and COVID-19 look similar and can include cough, congestion, fever and body aches. Pediatricians are also reporting that many flu patients are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea, which can cause dehydration.
Good health hygiene practices, like regular hand washing and staying home when sick, remain some of the best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Vaccinations against the flu and COVID-19 are available for most age groups.