A 3-year-old Columbus boy has died from a flu-associated illness, the first reported local pediatric death from the disease in the 2018-19 flu season, according to Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health.

Because the child was a Columbus resident, Columbus Public Health is investigating the illness and death, according to a news release sent March 7.

The case is the fourth flu-associated pediatric death in Ohio, according to both agencies.

Health officials did not disclose where in the city the boy lived.

Flu activity has been increasing over the past few weeks, and public health officials encourage those 6 months old and older to get a flu vaccination, the news release stated.

Vaccinations are available at Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health, as well as from health care providers and retail pharmacy outlets.

In addition to getting the vaccine, residents can help prevent flu by washing their hands, covering their coughs and staying home if they are sick, the release said.

Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends health-care providers prescribe one of two antiviral drugs as a second line of defense as soon as possible to patients with confirmed or suspected influenza who are hospitalized, have severe illness or might be at higher risk for flu complications, the release said.

The antiviral medications can reduce the severity of the flu and prevent serious flu complications, but they work best when started within two days of getting sick, according to the release.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary