Tallahassee, Fla. - Two children have died of the flu in Orange and Pasco counties, health officials announced Monday.
"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these children,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, deputy secretary for health and deputy state health officer for Children's Medical Services.
Pre-existing health conditions often play a role in how certain people are affected by the flu, according to a statement from the state Department of Health.
Officials did not confirm if that was the case here, but did say that cases such as these are exceptions to usually mild cases of the flu.
Centra Care doctors have seen an overall 72 percent increase in adult cases and a 54 percent increase in pediatric cases.
And officials said the flu is hitting central Florida early. October’s numbers were already higher than normal for this time of year.
Although peak flu season isn’t for another few months, doctors recommend getting the flu shot now.
The most common influenza subtype detected in Florida has been influenza A (H3).
Current vaccines protect against the strains of the flu that have been identified by the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories as circulating in Florida this season, officials said.
Most flu deaths in the United States occur in those with underlying chronic health conditions.
Pregnant women, young children, cancer patients, people with asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease and kidney disease should pay special attention to hygiene, avoid close contact to those who are sick and check on getting the flu vaccine, officials said.
Flu symptoms include headache, fever, severe cough, sore throat, runny nose or body aches.
Health department tips for protecting yourself from and preventing the spread of the flu:
- Get the flu vaccine. Find out where.
- Stay home from work or school when sick to prevent the flu’s spread
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing
- Wash hands frequently
- Keep hands away from face
- If symptoms appear, see your primary care provider immediately for guidance on treatment