Second Grader From Marple Newtown Dies From Flu

He is the first child in Pennsylvania to die from flu this season. Type B flu is more common among children.

A second-grade student in Marple Newtown School District died from complications from the flu over the weekend, making him the first child in Pennsylvania to die from influenza this season.

This flu season is being domniated by a rare strain of type B flu that is more common among children.

"This may be the hardest thing I am ever going to have to write. Heaven gained an angel yesterday," said his mother, Rebecca Horowitz Wzorek, in a Facebook post. "Matthew was taken from us after a battle with the flu. He was the kindest child and could brighten any room.

"We are grieving and trying to process it all but can’t understand how this could happen."

Marple Newtown Superintendent Tina Kane told parents Monday night it is likely all the students in the boy's Worrall Elementary School class in Broomall, PA were exposed to the virus and that his teacher is out of school this week with type B flu.

She said the teacher is being treated with Tamiflu, which is effective within the first 48 hours after symptoms appear. 

"Quite frankly, since the virus is airborne, the entire district should be on high alert for signs and symptoms of the flu," she wrote.

Type B flu

Influenza B hasn't been the primary flu strain in 27 years, says the CDC, but it has shown up across the country this year, including in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Type B is more common, and sometimes more serious, among kids. It has been responsible for 62 of the 92 deaths of children from flu so far this year, according to the CDC's latest weekly report.

Pennsylvania has had more than 45,000 reports of the type B flu this season and it has been the most common form identified in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, although it is more dominant in other parts of the state. Most of Pennsylvania's 47 deaths from flu this season have been people 65 and older.

New Jersey says type B is also its most dominant strain. Two children have died from flu in the state, one each from North Jersey and South Jersey, though it is unclear which strains they contracted.

Delaware has had seven deaths this season.

Effectiveness of flu vaccine

The CDC says it will know soon how effective this year's flu vaccine has been. Though the Washngton Post reports it is not a perfect match, the CDC says it is close enough to provide some protection.

It did say, however, that the antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, are effective against almost all of the flu viruses found this year.

Is it a cold or the flu?

If your child gets sick, it can be difficult to tell whether it is the flu or a cold and when it is safe to send them to school. The flu usually arrives quickly with fever, aches, chills, cough and headache. Fevers and headaches are rarer with a common cold.

If your kids have managed to dodge the flu bug so far, here are some tips for keeping them healthy and, if illness does strike, how to try and keep it from spreading to the rest of the family. 



Categories: Health & Nutrition, Healthy Living, News & Views