Flu Claims The Life Of Oklahoma Child For The First Time This Season
TULSA, Oklahoma - For the first time this flu season, the illness has claimed the life of an Oklahoma child, bringing the total number of flu related deaths in the state to 153 -- a new record.
The child, from Oklahoma County, died from complications from the flu this week. This is the first reported flu related death of someone under the age of 18 in Oklahoma.
Each year nearly 36,000 Americans die from the flu.
But when an otherwise healthy child dies from the virus, it's a painful reminder of just how deadly influenza can be.
The flu isn't something the Masson family usually worries about. But this season, the state's record breaking flu numbers have Phyllis Masson and her 5th grade daughter worried.
"Last week we had about 10 absences in my grade," said 5th grader Raven Masson.
Pediatrician Robert Wittrock says, "during this season, the flu is so prevalent that usually whenever kids get a high fever we like for them to be tested within the first couple of days of symptoms."
Dr. Wittrock says the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, and to remember to look for extreme symptoms like heavy breathing and dehydration.
According to Dr. Wittrock, these symptoms may include "if they're not crying tears, if the inside of their gums look really dry, or if their eyes start to look sunken."
As for the Massons, Raven says she'll continue taking her own preventative measures.
"Every morning we all clean our desks and we have a bottle of hand sanitizer in our classroom," said Raven.
Phyllis Masson says "I make sure she's washing her hands, staying away from everybody and keeping everything at school wiped down."