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Two Massachusetts children died this week after contracting the flu.
Twelve-year-old Aaron Zenus, of Milford, died Wednesday. A girl in Middlesex County whose name was not released has also died, public health officials confirmed Friday.
Milford School Superintendent Kevin McIntyre said in a statement that it was a sad day for the town, calling Aaron a beloved member of the school community. Grief counselors will be available at Stacy Middle School, where the boy was a seventh-grader.
During last year's flu season, one child died.
The state's Department of Public Health said the recent deaths are a reminder of the dangers of flu and the importance of vaccination. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone who is at least 6 months old get a flu shot.
The most recent weekly flu report from the Department of Public Health indicated an increase in rates of flu-like illness in the state.
In the vast majority of cases, flu is not deadly. Most people will experience symptoms including a fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat and runny nose. The CDC say most people will recover on their own within a few days, although symptoms can last for a week or longer.
The flu virus becomes deadly when a person develops complications such as pneumonia. Other dangerous complications that can be triggered by flu include inflammation of the heart or brain tissues, organ failure, an extreme inflammatory response in the body that can lead to sepsis, and the worsening of chronic medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
Here are emergency flu warning signs to watch for, according to the CDC:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
In addition to the signs above, get medical help immediately for any infant with any of these signs:
- Being unable to eat
- Trouble breathing
- No tears when crying
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
With reporting from WBUR's Newscast Unit and The Associated Press
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