By Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A child in West Virginia has died from the flu, health officials said Tuesday.

The Bureau for Public Health withheld details on the death, including the child’s name and location, to protect the family’s privacy. The Dominion Post reported the 5-year-old child died Monday at Ruby Memorial Hospital’s emergency room in Morgantown.

Child flu deaths are required to be reported to the local health department within one week.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the child’s family and friends,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, the state’s health officer. “Such a loss is always tragic. While most people recover from the flu in a few days, it clearly is and can be a serious and life-threatening illness in both children and adults.”

The Bureau for Public Health said in a statement that the last pediatric flu death in West Virginia occurred during the 2017-18 flu season.

The bureau said flu activity is widespread across West Virginia. Several counties have closed public schools in the past week.

Dr. Kathy Moffett, a WVU Medicine pediatric infectious disease physician, said Ruby Memorial is limiting the number of children who visit patients in an attempt to cut down on their possible exposure to the flu.

Officials recommend washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick to limit the spread of the flu.

Nationwide, 78 pediatric deaths from the flu have been reported this season. Ten of those have occurred in Tennessee.

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