“We are aware of a death in our region of a child who had tested positive for flu. We are saddened by this tragic death.”
That’s Dr. Linna Li, the Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
Dr. Li hasn’t shared any other information about the child, like their age or whether they had any pre-existing conditions, but says that it’s the only flu-related death in the area so far.
“Death is an infrequent outcome due to influenza infections,” she explains. “Estimates vary from hundreds to thousands of Canadians dying from flu infections per year, depending on the severity of the flu season.”
“Children, especially young children,” Dr. Li continues, “are at higher risk of severe outcomes due to flu infection; this is also true of the elderly, those with chronic health conditions, and pregnant people.”
According to Dr. Li influenza is the main respiratory illness in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark region right now.
She says reduced circulation in 2021 and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic might mean people are more susceptible to the virus than usual this winter.
“We are currently seeing more cases of flu in the LGL region, and earlier in the year than in typical winter respiratory seasons,” she says. “The flu vaccine is one of the most important ways people can reduce their risk of both flu infection and severe outcomes. Everyone over six months of age is eligible and strongly recommended to get the flu shot.”
Other layers of protection recommended by Dr. Li include wearing masks while out in public, staying home from work or school when sick, and regularly washing your hands and cleaning things you touch often.
You can read more about how to protect yourself from influenza and other respiratory illnesses on the Health Unit website.