An elementary-school-aged child in King County has died from complications with the flu, according to health officials.
The child was previously healthy but died on Dec. 15 in a Pierce County hospital.
This is the first child to die of flu complications reported in King County since 2009, said health officials.
Three adults have also died in King County from complications with the flu so far this season.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported the winter flu season was off to its earliest start in more than 15 years.
Officials say there is a chance this flu season could peak much earlier than usual. According to health experts, the last flu season that started this early was from 2003-2004, and it was bad.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report nationally the influenza B virus has been reported more frequently than other influenza viruses this season. Influenza B is also particularly dangerous for young children, experts said.
“This year’s vaccine is a good match for the circulating influenza B strain. The vaccine will also protect against of other types of flu strains that may appear later in the season, which typically lasts into the spring,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
The CDC is reporting influenza activity is widespread across 23 states so far, including Washington.
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body and headaches, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea. People with underlying health conditions, and adults 65 and older or children younger than 5-years-old are at increased risk of severe illness from flu, health experts said.
Health experts recommend even healthy adults shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the flu and everyone should get the vaccine.