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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Fatal flu infections in otherwise healthy children

Influenza poses a rare but real risk of fatal infection in otherwise healthy children, a Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention epidemiologist reports.

Karen K. Wong, MD, reviewed case reports for the 2004 to 2012 influenza seasons in data presented recently in San Diego at the IDWeek conference.

“Almost half the children who died had been previously healthy,” she says. “The numbers demonstrate how important it is for all children, even children who are otherwise healthy, to get a flu vaccine every year, and underscore why all children with severe illness should get treated early with influenza antiviral medications

Wong and colleagues analyzed U.S. pediatric influenza-associated deaths over an eight-year period, finding that 43% of the deaths occurred in children with no health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, that would have predisposed them to being at high risk of serious flu complications. Moreover, the study found that those young, previously healthy patients succumbed faster. The median duration of illness from onset of initial symptoms to death was four days in children with no underlying high-risk health conditions compared with seven days in children with at least one such condition.

For more on this story see the November 2012 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.