Officials with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that a child in the western part of the state died from flu complications.
The child’s hometown, county and gender was not released by health officials who said they wanted to protect the family’s privacy.
“If there is any positive to come from this tragedy, we hope it will be that people understand even though flu is a very common virus, it can cause serious and even deadly infections in some people,” Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore said in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies to this child’s family.”
The child died Jan. 24 from complications associated with flu infection. Officials say it was the first child death in the state for the 2016-2017 flu season.
So far this flu season, 19 adults have reportedly died from flu-associated causes in North Carolina. Most of them were older than 65.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3,000 to 49,000 people annually die from flu infections in the U.S. At least eight children have reportedly died from the flu as of Jan. 21.
Seniors, children younger than 5 and people with heart or lung disease have a greater risk for serious illness.
Health officials urge people who think they might have the flu to ask their doctors about treatment with an antiviral drug that could help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. They also urge people to get a flu vaccination.