First Pediatric Flu Deaths Confirmed in Michigan for the 2019-2020 Season

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This email is being sent to VFC, Non-VFC and H1N1 Providers in Oakland County, Michigan by the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) Immunization Action Plan (IAP). 

Please review the information below and see the attached press release.  Please forward to any applicable partners. 

First Pediatric Flu Deaths Confirmed in Michigan for the 2019-2020 Season

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reporting the first two confirmed pediatric influenza-associated deaths for the 2019-2020 influenza season. One child (<18 years of age) is from central Michigan and the other is from the Southeast region of Michigan.  Both children tested positive for influenza B infection.  Additional suspected pediatric influenza-associated deaths in Michigan are currently under investigation.

Nationally, there have been 32 pediatric deaths reported to date. Influenza B has been the dominant strain for the 2019-2020 influenza season, both nationally and in Michigan, but there has been an increase in recent weeks of influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 activity.

All suspect or confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths must be promptly reported to public health. Your assistance is needed to identify and facilitate reporting of these cases, including inpatient, Emergency Department, and Medical Examiner cases.  In addition, healthcare providers shall report any facility respiratory outbreaks and suspect novel influenza cases within 24 hours to the appropriate local health department.  MDHHS recommends PCR or culture confirmation for influenza samples.  Influenza-positive specimens from pediatric deaths, facility outbreaks, and suspect novel flu cases should be retained (not discarded) and immediately forwarded to the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories for further testing.  Additional guidance on specimen collection for pediatric influenza deaths can be found at:

Clinicians are also reminded to treat high-risk patients with antivirals as soon as possible, especially those at risk for influenza complications, those with severe or progressive illness, or those who are hospitalized. Decisions about starting antiviral treatment should not be delayed for laboratory confirmation of influenza. Please see the attached CDC Health Advisory for additional clinician guidance. 

Influenza claims the lives of children every year across the United States.  MDHHS is reminding residents that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu this season and is asking physicians to continue encouraging influenza vaccinations for all individuals ages 6 months and older.

Influenza surveillance questions can be directed to the MDHHS Communicable Disease Division (517-335-8165). Vaccine-related questions can be directed to the MDHHS Immunization Division (517-335-8159).