Two have died so far in this year's flu season: Taiwan CDC

An eight-year-old girl and a 65-year-old woman both died within two days of showing flu symptoms

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Flu vaccines (Image by Joint Base Andrews)

Flu vaccines (Image by Joint Base Andrews)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced today that two people have died since flu season began this year.

An eight-year-old girl and a 65-year-old woman both died within two days of showing flu symptoms. Neither had been vaccinated and both showed symptoms that progressed rapidly. The CDC reminds those eligible for vaccination to get it as soon as possible.

Taiwan CDC Deputy Director Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that 54,206 people made emergency hospital visits last week with flu-like symptoms, a slight increase from the previous week but lower than the number of visits in September.

Chuang said since the beginning of flu season (Oct. 1), a total of 48 people have been admitted to hospital with serious flu-related complications. The majority have been H3N2 virus infections (60 percent), although the two that died were infected with H1N1.

The 8-year-old girl who died last week did not have a history of chronic illness. She initially exhibited regular symptoms, including a cough and fever, but the next day started to slur speech and fade in and out of consciousness. She was rushed to emergency services and diagnosed with encephalitis but unfortunately did not make it through the night.

The 65-year-old woman had a history of diabetes and was admitted to hospital the day after becoming ill, but was already exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia and passed away the same day in the emergency room.

Taiwan CDC epidemic specialist Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said children from six months to preschool age, senior citizens over 50 years old, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions are most at risk to flu viruses.

The doctor also pointed out that pneumonia is the most common serious complication to develop from infections. Other common symptoms include coughing and excessive mucus production.

Once children are infected, their risk of contracting encephalitis becomes higher, and Lin warns parents to  pay close attention and seek medical help if their child cannot walk straight or is fading in and out of consciousness.

Taiwan CDC appeals to parents to vaccinate their children as soon as possible.