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Two Flu-Related Deaths Reported At Children’s Mercy Hospital

This winter’s flu epidemic appears to have peaked, but the virus remains highly dangerous.

At a news conference Friday, Children’s Mercy Hospital pediatrician Robyn Livingston said two young patients had died of complications related to the flu. She did not provide specific patient information, citing privacy reasons.

She said, however, that flu deaths among children tend to be complicated cases. 

“Most of the children that have bad outcomes have underlying medical conditions,” Livingston said.

But she noted that healthy children also die from the flu every year.

During this flu season, Children’s Mercy has diagnosed more than 1,500 children with influenza. Nearly 100 have required hospitalization.

The hospital saw a peak around Christmas, though multiple peaks among children aren’t unusual during flu season, Livingston said. Flu numbers often spike after children return to school from winter break.

Livingston advised parents to focus on prevention.

“Yes, we’ve had one peak in Kansas City. There’s still a lot of flu nationally. There’s still a lot of flu within the city. It is not too late to get the flu vaccine,” she said.

The hospital expects flu season to continue for another six to eight weeks.

Figures from the Kansas City, Mo., Health Department suggest the flu may have also peaked in the general population. Health care providers report that confirmed flu cases dropped by half in the week after Christmas.

Health Department spokesperson Jeff Hershberger suggested taking those numbers with a grain of salt, saying doctors frequently run out of tests or simply stop testing once the flu has become widespread.

Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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