Influenza outbreak hits Michigan families hard

Jan 11, 2013

Here at State of Opportunity we write stories about children who are considered 'at risk'. We often correlate being 'at risk' with one's racial group or socioeconomic status, but sometimes it can refer to one's health. In the case of the flu, it doesn't matter if you're White or black, rich or poor, you're still at risk of getting sick.

The flu season has just begun and already four Michigan children have lost their lives to it.

The fourth child, Joshua Polenha, a freshman at Lake Fenton High School, passed away early Thursday morning.

Three other children have died from the virus. Their ages range from 6 months to 13 years old. Their names have not yet been released.

The flu has hit the United States particularly hard this year. The city of Boston recently declared a public health emergency because of the vast amount of people plagued by the flu. The city's most recent count stood at more than 700 infected with the virus and four dead.

In Michigan, 285 people have caught the flu.

The most common symptoms of the flu are chills, sore throat, fever, and headache. 

Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are most at risk of catching the virus. the If left untreated, the virus can lead to death.

Studies show flu season started earlier this year and has been spreading at a rapid pace. Officials are saying this year's flu season is the worst in a decade. Public health officials are calling for Americans to receive flu shots in hopes the vaccine will lower the risk of infection.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has compiled a list of agencies where people can get vaccines. There is expected to be a shortage of vaccines this season, though, so officials have stressed families take early action.