2 more kids die of flu in Louisiana; 4 this season
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two more children have died of the flu in Louisiana, bringing the total this season to four pediatric deaths, state health officials said Friday.
One child died in Southwest Louisiana and the other in the southeast, Department of Health and Hospitals Ken Pastorick said in a news release. One death was in early January but was only reported to the state this week, he said.
The earlier pediatric deaths were in southeast and northwest Louisiana. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define pediatric deaths as those of children less than 18 years old.
The state health department says tests have confirmed at least 53 deaths from influenza statewide since Oct. 1. But officials say that's low, because hundreds die in Louisiana each year of the flu or conditions made worse by influenza without a flu diagnosis.
The CDC estimates that as many as 600 people may have died in the state since Oct. 1, with up to 520,000 cases and 5,200 hospitalizations.
Officials expect this year's flu season to continue into April.
State officials strongly encourage flu vaccinations for all residents older than six months, to protect themselves and their families.