Warning issued after flu death in Virginia’s Central region

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A child from Virginia’s Central region died this week from the flu, the first to do so this season. The Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday that the child, who was under 5 years old, died from what spokesperson Brookie Crawford called “complications associated with influenza.”

When people die of the flu, we typically hear doctors use that term, “complications associated with” the virus. It means the person died from an underlying condition made worse by the virus, not from the original infection itself. The agency won’t release any further information about this case, Crawford said, in order to protect the privacy of the family. 

A child dying from the flu is a rare occurrence in Virginia. VDH data shows an average of three children die each year from the sickness here in the Commonwealth. Even for adults, this past season was a moderate one. State officials only investigated 23 flu outbreaks from October 2021 to July 2022. An outbreak is classified as any case where two or more people get infected with the virus. 

Issuing a warning

On Wednesday, state health officials urged parents not to ignore flu warnings. They asked people to take precautions, to avoid more children getting sick. 

“This tragic death reminds us that flu can be a very serious disease, especially in the very young, the elderly and those with chronic medical problems,” said Dr. Colin Greene. He serves as Virginia’s current state health commissioner. “ While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce risk is to receive the flu vaccine.” 

Greene said an updated version of the vaccine should be available within the next 60 days here in Virginia. At that point, anyone over 6 months old will be able to take it. 

For adults or children, Greene recommended one other tool to avoid getting the flu. He asked people to wash their hands regularly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

To learn more about when flu vaccines will be available, you can call the Piedmont Health District’s regional offices in Farmville at (434) 392-3984. You can also visit their website at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/piedmont/.