Three Pediatric Deaths and Severe Illness Mark Local Flu Season

ideastream: Shutterstock
ideastream: Shutterstock
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Summit County health officials report that a one-year old boy has died from a flu-related illness, bringing to three the number of pediatric deaths in Ohio from this flu outbreak.  Local health officials say this flu season is the most severe they have seen in nearly 10 years.

Dr. Baruch Fertel, Quality Director for all of the Cleveland Clinic’s 18 Emergency Departments said they are all stretched to capacity because of people with the flu.

There is also a shortage of beds for those who need to be admitted, he said.

“I’m seeing a lot of patients that don’t have the typical flu-like symptoms. I saw a couple elderly patients who presented with general weakness and didn’t have a fever and it turned out that they had the flu,” Dr. Fertel said.

At University Hospitals, patients showing up at the hospital are sicker than previous year, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robyn Strosaker.

“This is a very aggressive strain of the flu,” she said.

UH has opened up unused sections of the hospital to make more beds available.

“Infectious disease experts say the peak is yet to come. It could get worse and we are preparing for it,” Strosaker said.

Local hospital officials are asking the public to use urgent cares or other sources of care rather than emergency rooms if their flu symptoms are not serious.

Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to this very aggressive strain of flu this season, Dr. Fertel said.

“Key points are to make sure that their children are taking in enough liquid. That they are urinating. When they cry they have tears. If the kid is lethargic and just lying there listless that’s something that should prompt a visit to the emergency department,” he said.

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