Health officials say two teens died from flu complications - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Health officials say two teens died from flu complications

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Health officials say two Memphis-area teenagers have died recently from complications from the flu.

The teenagers from Shelby and DeSoto counties were hospitalized at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center with bacterial pneumonia, a flu complication.

The hospital's chief of pediatric infectious disease Dr. Keith English said one teen died on Jan. 22 the other on Feb. 1. A third patient remained hospitalized Friday due to flu complications.       While pneumonia was the likely cause of death, "Both of these teenagers would still be alive today if they hadn't gotten the flu," English said.

Flu plays a role in about 36,000 U.S. deaths annually and 90 percent are age 65 and older.       But health officials say there's no reason to believe children or teenagers are at a greater risk this year.

English said patients can develop pneumonia just as they appear to be recovering from a relatively mild flu, such as in the case of the 14-year-old Shelby County resident who died in January.

But pneumonia developed within hours of flu being diagnosed in the 13-year-old DeSoto County resident who died this month, he said.

Federal health officials characterized flu activity as widespread in 44 states, including Tennessee, during the first week in February.

Dr. Kelly L. Moore, medical director of the Tennessee health department's immunization program, said the virus can continue circulating in a community for another three to five weeks.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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