(AP) State health officials reported the first child death from influenza in two flu seasons on Wednesday, when an 8-year-old died in Ramsey County.
The child had no underlying medical conditions and hadn't been vaccinated against the flu, said Kris Ehresmann, head of immunizations at the Minnesota Health Department. Hospital testing identified the flu strain as influenza type A, she said.
The death comes as flu bugs are spreading among school-age children, with 55 Minnesota schools reporting likely outbreaks in the last week, Ehresmann said. The flu is rarely fatal for children. One Minnesota child died during the 2004-05 flu season, and there were no pediatric flu deaths in the 2005-06 and 2003-04 flu seasons, she said.
"Deaths from influenza are uncommon among children - both kids with high-risk conditions and kids without high-risk conditions - but they do happen," Ehresmann said.
Parents should contact a health care provider if their child develops symptoms different from or more severe than the common cold. Ehresmann said it's not too late to get immunized against the flu, and plenty of vaccine is still available.