From Our 2008 Archives

Kids' Fatal Flu Often Includes MRSA

Staph Infections, Incluing MRSA, Rising in Children's Flu Deaths

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 6, 2008 -- Flu is rarely fatal in kids, but pediatric flu deaths are increasingly also linked to other bacterial infections, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

CDC researchers report that news in the October edition of Pediatrics.

The CDC's Lyn Finelli, DrPH, and colleagues studied the 166 pediatric influenza deaths reported to the CDC from 2004 to 2007.

During that time there was a fivefold increase in flu deaths in which the child also had a staph infection, and most of those staph infections were MRSA.

In many cases, flu deaths came quickly. "Influenza was often rapidly fatal with almost half of children dying within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms and 75% dying within seven days; almost half died at home or in the emergency department," write Finelli and colleagues.

The researchers highlight the importance of flu vaccination. Most of the children who were eligible for flu vaccination weren't fully vaccinated against flu. Of the 90 children eligible for flu vaccination, "only 5% were fully vaccinated" against flu, the study states.

The 2008-2009 flu season is getting under way, and the flu vaccine is already available as a shot or as a nasal spray. Children who are at least 6 months old are eligible to get vaccinated against flu. The CDC recommends annual vaccination against flu, since the flu vaccine changes yearly.

SOURCES: Finelli, L. Pediatrics, October 2008; vol 122: pp 805-811. CDC: "Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine."

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