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King County reports first pediatric flu death in 10 years

Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren
/
The Associated Press
Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 in Seattle. It's unknown if the child who died this week had the flu vaccine.

King County is reporting a child has died from the flu. It marks the first recorded pediatric death from the flu in King County since 2009.

Public health officials say the strain of influenza B virus going around in Washington right now is especially dangerous for children.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County, says we haven’t seen this particular strain in many years.

“Because of that there is probably not a lot of immunity in the population to this virus,” Duchin said, “so it is likely to cause many illnesses and many serious infections.”

Health officials aren't saying if the child who died had the flu vaccine. But Dunchin says about 80 to 90 percent of children who die from influenza each year are not vaccinated.

Washington’s flu season started unusually early this year. Other strains likely will emerge in the months ahead.

Along with this latest death, there have been two adult flu-related deaths this season in King County. Health officials stress it’s still worthwhile to get vaccinated, if you haven't, because infections generally peak in February.

Will Stone is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.