Flu Outbreak Raises Concerns for Elderly, Children

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Approximately 80 percent of the country, 41 states, have been hit with severe influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's one of the worst flu seasons of the decade.

CDC officials are especially concerned about children, the elderly and people, with underlying health conditions for whom the flu can be deadly.

Pediatricians, like Dr. Gayle Smith, say their flu cases are spiking, especially now that most kids are back in school.

"Our office in the last two weeks has exploded with children," Smith said.

Joshua Polehna, a 15-year-old freshman at Lake Fenton High School in Michigan, is one of the latest to die from flu-like symptoms.

The teen came down with a cough and a sore throat on Dec. 30. His parents took him to the doctor when he had a fever but just days later Joshua passed away.

In New Jersey, 4-year-old Jeremy Pereira is unable to go to school because he doesn't have a flu shot. His parents don't want him to get it because he has an egg allergy and egg is a component in the flu vaccine.

"I can't imagine what would happen if it went directly into the bloodstream. That's insane to ask me to do that to my child," Jeremy's father, Joe Pereira, said.

The CDC says egg allergic patients can safely receive the shot, but Jeremy's parents are taking no chances.

Health officials said 18 children have already died from flu-related symptoms. That's why many doctors continue to push the flu shot.

"Many pediatricians can speak to complications and hospitalized children, long hospitalizations, to recover from influenza. And many of us know of a child who has died of influenza," Dr. Smith said.

Two other important precautions include watching what you touch and washing your hands frequently.

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CBN News
Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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