2 Child Deaths, Nearly 1,000 Sick As NJ Flu Outbreak Soars

Source: New Jersey Patch

Nearly 1,000 of New Jerseyans have fallen ill with the flu — and a second child has died — as cases have once again soared statewide in recent weeks, state health officials say.

The number of cases rose sharply from 268 during the week that ended on Dec. 14 and 438 during the following week, according to state Department of Health statistics. These sample cases, called “rapid-test,” identify the form of quick tests that the state uses as part of its weekly survey of the flu’s impact on New Jersey.

Some counties, such as Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean, have had high numbers of positive flu tests compared to last year based on surveys conducted by the state Department of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared the state’s outbreak “widespread” since its positive sample flu cases have doubled to 967 during the week that ended on Jan. 4.

A young child from southern New Jersey died at the end of December. The first death, a North Jersey infant, occurred at the end of October, according to state health officials. The state Department of Health said 10 children have been severely sick with the flu in New Jersey this season and 27 have died nationwide.

State officials say the predominant strain of influenza in New Jersey is “B,” which is highly contagious and can have dangerous effects on your health in more severe cases, according to HealthLine.com.

The statewide flu data is based on state Department of Health laboratory specimens dating back to the beginning of the season, which officials say was October 2019.

Last year, New Jersey had an especially bad season that was attributed to infections from a flu strain known as H3N2. It responds poorly to vaccinations and is particularly dangerous to young children and older adults over the age of 65.

New Jersey also had a high number of H1N1 virus, otherwise known as the “swine flu.” H1N1 swine flu isn’t always severe, but when it’s bad, “it’s really bad,” according to WebMD. Patients hospitalized with pandemic flu have an 11 percent fatality rate.

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