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2 of 11 nationwide pediatric flu-related deaths reported in Utah

By Felicia Martinez, KSL TV | Updated - Jan 3rd, 2019 @ 7:06pm | Posted - Jan 3rd, 2019 @ 2:10pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 11 pediatric flu-related deaths this season, two of which happened in Utah.

One of those two deaths also involved an underlying medical condition.

Additionally, officials with the Utah Department of Health said Thursday the Beehive State stands out nationally because of how widespread the flu is from county to county.

Officials also reported the state has not even hit peak flu season yet.

Typically, flu season is tracked from October to the end of May. This year, in terms of severity, Utah’s flu season is mild. However, the state is seeing widespread activity picking up in almost all counties.

Dr. Per Gesteland, with Primary Children's Hospital, believes the holiday season mixed with flu season contributes to a larger spread of the infection.

"You throw holidays in when these viruses are just starting to pick up and really increase those chances for mixing the groups of people to get together, it's really going to take off," he said. "And then you take all those young kids, you put them back into school and we'll expect it to even pick up further in the coming weeks."

The most common strain health officials are seeing is H1N1, which is a strain used in the vaccine this year.

“The vaccine is a good match for the strain we are seeing most predominantly,” said Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko. “Vaccination — No. 1 thing. It’s not too late to get vaccinated. There’s plenty of influenza vaccine throughout the state, so visit your health care provider. Go to a pharmacy. Get yourself vaccinated if you haven’t.”

According to the UDOH, there have been 103 influenza-associated hospitalizations, which is lower than what officials have seen at this time in the past couple of years. However, given the fact activity is picking up throughout the state, they anticipate those numbers to increase.

The CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone 6 months or older. People are also urged to thoroughly wash their hands throughout the day, cover their mouths with a tissue or the crook of their elbows when coughing and sneezing, and stay home when feeling sick.

Contributing: Ladd Egan, KSL TV

Felicia Martinez

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