Health & Family

Report: Staph related to flu deaths

More children have died from flu because they also had staph infections, according to a government report that urges parents to have their kids get the flu shot.

The number of deaths wasn't high – 73 during the 2006-07 flu season – but there was more than a fivefold increase in hard-to-treat complications. And preliminary figures indicate deaths rose again during this past winter's flu season.

Public health officials say the numbers underscore the importance of a brand new recommendation that all children, from 6 months through 18 years, get routine flu shots. Before this year, shots were recommended for kids under 5.

More than half the children who died were between ages 5 and 17 and had been healthy until they got the flu.

Parents shouldn't panic, “but it's an important message to say even healthy children develop complications and die almost before anything much can be done for them,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist. He was not involved in the federal study, but has worked with a federal vaccine advisory committee and has consulted for vaccine makers.

The study, appearing in the October edition of Pediatrics for release today, is based on an analysis of reported flu deaths from the 2004-05 through 2006-07 seasons. Flu deaths in children during those seasons totaled 47, 46 and 73, respectively.

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