influenza-associated pediatric death is a death in a child under 18 years of
age resulting from a clinically compatible illness that was confirmed to be
influenza by an appropriate laboratory or rapid diagnostic test.
Causative Agent, or Etiologic Agent
flu”) is a respiratory illness caused by an influenza virus.
are spread from person to person by respiratory droplets generated when an
infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks in close proximity to an uninfected
person. Sometimes, influenza viruses are spread when a person touches a
surface with influenza viruses on it (e.g., a doorknob), and then touches his or her own nose or mouth.
A healthy adult may be able to spread influenza 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5
to 7 days after they become sick. Some people, especially young children and
people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an
even longer time.
Influenza usually comes on suddenly, one to four days after the virus
enters the body, and may include these symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Tiredness (can be extreme)
otitis media, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common. Some infected
persons are asymptomatic.
generally recover from illness in a few days to less than two weeks, but some
people develop complications (such as pneumonia) and may die from influenza.
The highest rates of influenza infection occur among children; however, the
risks for serious health problems, hospitalizations, and deaths from
influenza are typically greatest among people 65 years of age or older,
children aged <5 years especially those aged <2 years, pregnant women, and
people of any age who have medical conditions that place them at increased
risk for complications from influenza.
In people with chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease,
influenza can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening illnesses. Persons
65 years of age and older account for approximately 90% of deaths attributed
to pneumonia and influenza. Young children with influenza can develop high
fevers, and a small percentage of children hospitalized with influenza can
have febrile seizures. Deaths from influenza are uncommon among children, but
do occur. Influenza has also been associated with neurological problems,
Reye’s syndrome, muscle inflammation, and heart inflammation.
Most people who
develop influenza illness will recover on their own by getting rest and
will not need medication. Antiviral medications can shorten the duration and
severity of illness if given within the first 48 hours of the illness. These
medications are usually prescribed to persons who have a severe illness or to
those who are at higher risk for developing serious illness or complications
due to influenza.
The best way to
prevent influenza is to get an influenza vaccine each year as soon as the
vaccine is available to the public. Vaccination
is associated with reductions in influenza-related respiratory illness and
physician visits among all age groups, hospitalization and death among
persons at high risk, otitis media among children, and work absenteeism among
Other forms of
- Hand washing and
using alcohol-based hand sanitizers,
- Covering your
coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue or your arm or sleeve,
- Avoiding touching
your eyes, nose, or mouth,
- Avoiding close
contact with persons who are ill,
- Staying home when
you are ill, and
- Taking antiviral
medications if prescribed by your doctor.
- In certain situations (e.g., influenza outbreaks in settings like
nursing homes), antiviral medications may be prescribed to high-risk
individuals to prevent them from developing influenza illness after exposure
to infected individuals.
Children with a
fever should be kept out of school or childcare until they are fever free for
24 hours without the use of fever suppressing medications. Rules for
exclusion of sick children from school and childcare are outlined in the
Texas Administrative Code, specifically Rule 97.7 for schools and Rule 746.3603 for childcare.
influenza reporting season for the United States begins in October and
continues through May; in Texas, influenza surveillance continues
year-round. Influenza activity usually peaks in January or February in
Texas, although the peak of influenza has occurred as early as October.
For the 2015-2016 influenza season, influenza activity peaked in March.
Except for influenza-associated pediatric deaths and novel influenza
cases, individual cases of influenza are not reportable by law in Texas.
influenza-associated pediatric deaths began in Texas in 2007. From 2007-2015
with the exclusion of 2009, the reported number of cases of
influenza-associated pediatric mortality ranged from 7 to 23. During the 2009
pandemic year, 54 cases of influenza-associated pediatric mortality were
reported. In 2007, the highest influenza-associated pediatric mortality rate
in Texas occurred in children ages 15-17 years, followed closely by infants
under 1 year of age. From 2008-2011, the highest influenza-associated
pediatric mortality rate occurred in infants under 1 year of age. In 2012,
the highest influenza-associated pediatric mortality rate occurred in
children ages 10-14 years. From 2013-2015, the highest influenza-associated
pediatric mortality rate occurred in infants under 1 year of age.