OKANOGAN — An Okanogan County child has died from complications from Influenza B, the fifth pediatric death in Washington this flu season.
Okanogan County Public Health said in a Tuesday news release that it is the first flu-related death reported in the county for the 2019-20 season.
There are two main types of the virus: Influenza A and Influenza B.
“The flu strain currently circulating in our county and over the last several weeks is predominantly Influenza B, which has particularly hit our young people hard,” Community Health Director Lauri Jones said in the release. “We are deeply saddened for the family and their loss.”
Jones declined to release the name, age or sex of the child, and also did not have the date of death. She said it happened this month.
She said the number of flu-related deaths in Okanogan County varies.
“I don’t believe that we have had a pediatric death in many, many years,” she said.
Jones said the department reported 543 flu and flu-like illnesses in December 2019, compared to 212 in December 2018. Normally the county’s flu season runs from late January through March, she said, but this year it started after Thanksgiving.
The department encourages people to wash their hands often with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cover their coughs and sneezes, stay home when sick, and get a flu shot.
People who have been vaccinated can still get the flu, Jones said, but symptoms may be milder.
“Some protection against flu viruses is better than none at all,” she said. “The flu shot is still our best protection, and it’s not too late to get your flu shot.”
Visit knockoutflu.org for more information.