A young child in Southern Maine has died from a flu-related illness, according to the Maine CDC.

Health officials say the child was younger than 5 years old and had not been vaccinated against influenza this season. The child, whose identity, specific age, and hometown were not revealed, tested positive for influenza B. An influenza-associated death is when a person dies after having symptoms and a positive influenza test. So far, the Maine CDC has recorded 19 adult deaths this year that are, at least partially, attributable to the flu. This is the first child flu-death reported this season. Health officials say flu season continues into May, so residents should be taking precautions.

Influenza causes a fever and cough or sore throat and is, for most people, a fairly minor illness. But for certain people, including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions, it can be much more serious. There are antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms of the flu. Health officials advise seeking medical attention when experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty or changes in breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104 F
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

It's important to take precautions against getting sick. The Maine CDC recommends the 'No Flu 4 You' guidelines:

  • Wash your hands often and well
  • Cover your cough, using tissues or by coughing into your sleeve
  • Stay home when you're sick, to avoid spreading the virus to others
  • Get vaccinated - health officials say the best defense is still the flu shot, and it's not too late to get one. While the shot won't completely prevent getting sick, it will greatly lessen the symptoms and duration. Influenza vaccinations are provided by the state of Maine, free of charge, to all children under the age of 19.

Find more information on the Maine CDC's flu website.