Influenza B caused the Jan. 12 death of 4-year-old Hunter S. Ewert of Boardman.
Hunter’s death brings to four the total of confirmed influenza- associated pediatric mortalities reported in Ohio, the first in Mahoning County, as reported to the Ohio Department of Health this flu season through Feb. 6.
Hunter was pronounced dead at 7:30 a.m. at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in Boardman after being found unresponsive in his bed at 6:30 a.m. by his parents, Shannon and Brian Ewert. Mrs. Ewert, a student nurse, performed CPR on her son until paramedics arrived.
Tissue specimens from a Jan. 14 autopsy by Dr. Joseph Ohr, Mahoning County deputy coroner and forensic pathologist, were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to confirm that the flu was the cause of Hunter’s death.
On Friday, Dr. Ohr said the CDC found evidence of Influenza B virus in Hunter’s body by way of DNA analysis.
“In correlation with the decedent’s medical history, scene investigation and autopsy results, it is reasonable to conclude that Hunter Ewert died as a result of Influenza B infection,” Dr. Ohr said in a press release.
There are three basic types of influenza viruses: A, B and C, of which A and B cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States.
Influenza type C infections cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics, according to the CDC website.
During this flu season, which began in October 2012, 59 pediatric deaths nationwide have been reported to the CDC, 25 from type B and 34 from type A, Dr. Ohr said.
According to the Mahoning County District Board of Health’s influenza season surveillance summary for the week of Feb. 3-9, done in conjunction with the Youngstown City Health Department, the incidence of flu continued to be “widespread” in the state, but the number of emergency-department visits with patients exhibiting flulike symptoms decreased for the fifth-consecutive week.
According to ODH, there were 293 confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations during the week of Feb. 3-9, including 83 in the northeast section of the state, which includes Mahoning County.