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State reports first child death from influenza

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — 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.

His parents identified him as 8-year-old Lucio Satar, a second-grader at St. Paul’s Four Seasons Elementary School. They told KARE-TV he died of pneumonia, a complication he developed after coming down with the flu.

Lucio started feeling sick Wednesday last week. He went to the hospital Friday. On Wednesday this week, his classmates were given a letter to take home, notifying parents of his death and how to protect their families against influenza.

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His 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 2004-2005 flu season, and there were no pediatric flu deaths in the 2005-2006 and 2003-2004 flu seasons, she 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 still is available.

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