Sobering stats out of the CDC Friday show that 37 kids have perished from the respiratory illness as of last Saturday—and the flu season is on track to be one of the worst in 15 years, the Washington Post reports. Nearly 12,000 people have required hospitalization so far, and flu activity was said to be high or even "extreme" in 39 states, as well as New York City and Puerto Rico. Health officials say the final pediatric death toll might exceed the 148 deaths recorded in the 2014-15 season. More details and developments:
- NBC News reports the death toll may be even higher than what's been reported, and Dr. John Williams, head of pediatric infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, notes "we probably haven't peaked yet." Although NBC adds that influenza usually isn't cause for too much alarm with prompt and proper treatment, it cites the cases of two children who died this month after experiencing "typical" cold or flu symptoms. The best way to keep your own kids safe, says Williams: Get them vaccinated.
- Fox 8 Cleveland lists child-specific symptoms parents should look for that might warrant a trip to the doctor, including labored breathing, finding it hard to keep from dozing off, and an unrelenting fever (or one that vanishes, only to reemerge). "It's incredible to think about a normal, healthy child who can succumb to the flu and succumb very, very quickly," a Cleveland Clinic doctor warns.
- New York state is taking extra steps to protect kids, thanks to an emergency executive order issued Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Democrat & Chronicle reports that pharmacists, who usually can't administer the flu vaccine to children under the age of 18, can now give shots to anyone ages 2 and over during the "disaster" period, which will end at a time of Cuomo's choosing.
- CBS News reports that two healthy young mothers—one in Oregon, one in Indiana—recently died from the disease. One of them, Indiana's Karlie Slaven, 37, had recently finished caring for her sick children when she came down with the same symptoms and eventually developed pneumonia, per People. The increasing number of people being stricken is putting a strain on resources, with lack of medicine and little room in hospitals being cited nationwide.
- What to do if you do come down with the flu? Today offers some pointed don'ts. Among the no-nos: taking antibiotics, gulping down cough medicine, and taking cold showers (icy water can actually make fevers go up; lukewarm water can help break them).
- A possible bright light on the influenza horizon: what Forbes says could be "significant steps" toward a "Holy Grail" in the fight against the flu. That would be a universal vaccine that fights every strain of the virus. The magazine cites two studies that show scientists may be making headway.
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