JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The flu virus has a firm grip on the United States right now, with several states, including Florida, reporting more cases than usual. Now, for the first time in Duval County, the health department is reporting a flu-related death. The agency says the victim is under the age of 18.
"This is a really good chance to reiterate to people how important it is to get vaccinated for the flu," said epidemiologist Karen Elliott. She tracks the virus for the Duval County Health Department. She says it's the typical strain of flu we're seeing here, nothing new or different.
And she says it's not as widespread in Jacksonville as it is in other parts of the state. "Duval County is currently reporting moderate levels of influenza. And it is elevated, but we would expect that for this time of year."
The key is keeping it contained. She recommends staying home if you're sick, washing your hands often, getting a flu shot and remembering the flu can be deadly.
"Really, anyone over the age of six months can get a flu shot," said Elliott. "There are some people who may have a severe egg allergy that won't be able to get it. But we really do encourage everyone to get the flu shot."
The Duval County Health Department only records flu-related deaths among children, not adults. But the CDC estimates the flu kills 23,000 people a year in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the flu