Flu claims the lives of two Ohio children

CLEVELAND-The flu season in Ohio has now claimed the lives of two children.  Ohio health officials say a four year old and a one year old have died from flu complications.  Medical experts also fear the season is not even at its peak.

Four-year-old Jonah Rieben of Montgomery County, near Dayton, died January 6th, the first Ohio child to die of complications from the flu this season.  Monday, an 18-month-old boy from the Toledo area also died from flu complications.

"The problem with children is, especially if they were born premature, or if they have any kind of underlying health issues, they are more susceptible to getting really sick, and kids go down the tubes on you much faster than adults do, they don't have the same resilience," said Dr. Lolita McDavid, pediatrician at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.

Dr. McDavid, says it is important that parents get their children vaccinated for influenza.

"We vaccinate children after six months of age, so I saw patients yesterday and my parents were taking up on the flu vaccine," said Dr. McDavid.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 1,750 people of all ages were hospitalized in Ohio the first week of January because of the flu.

That compares to 925 in the last week of December.  There have been 3,854 people hospitalized because of the flu this entire season.

"Last year in this area, we had four pediatric deaths, in this area over the time of the flu, and we have not seen the peak of the flu season yet, it's really gonna peak in February and it goes through march, so we're not finished," said McDavid.

Dr. McDavid says this year's flu vaccine is only about 30-percent effective, but says it's better than nothing.  She says it can be easy for parents to confuse the flu with a cold.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and chills.

"It is a disease that's respiratory spread, people sneeze and cough, good handwashing, good handwashing, good handwashing, especially with children. Children will touch a lot of things and then they'll touch their face and their nose," said Dr. McDavid.