LANSING, Mich. – According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, a six-year-old from southwest Michigan has died from the flu. This makes the third child under the age of 14 to die this season alone.
A six-month-old child, also from the southwest region of the state, also died from the flu this season.
The third death is a 13-year-old from the central part of the state.
According to Angela Minicuci, with the MDCH, the department is mandated to report deaths of children under the age of 18 in the region where the deaths occurred.
Mincuci says no children died from the flu last season. And in 2010 – 2011, a total of six children died from the flu in Michigan.
In Kent County alone, the health department is reporting cases of the flu continue to climb.
“We went from five confirmed cases two weeks ago to 112 cases last week and now we are at 242 cases of flu,” said Lisa LaPlante of the Kent County Health Department.
The same type of increase can be seen by officials at the Kalamazoo County Health Department. While they don’t have updated numbers at this point, they say what they are seeing so far are numbers typically seen at the end of February, not the beginning of January.
As far as treating the flu if you do catch the virus, we saw more than a few empty slots in the medicine aisles of West Michigan stores these days.
Ben Poquette is a manager at the Forest Hills Pharmacy on Cascade Road. He said as the number of flu cases rise in the area the number of available prescription medicine, like Tamiflu, is going down.
“There is not a thing you can do,” said Poquette. “You are at the mercy of the wholesaler and the wholesaler is at the mercy of production. It’s an ugly circle that you can’t keep up with.”
Poquette said there have been times when people with prescriptions are turned away because they are simply out of product. He said when that happens, the pharmacy will always help customers find other options.
“(We) try to call around and get them to somewhere that has it but when no one has it… unfortunately the customer is the one that is going to suffer,” Poquette said.
The pharmacist said there is no way to predict if the demand will continue at this rate. If that is the case, there is concern medicine production will also lag behind.