BANGOR (AP) – The death of an otherwise healthy teenager from complications of the flu in Sagadahoc County underscores the importance for those at risk of influenza to get vaccinated, state health officials said.

The teen developed flu symptoms Dec. 19 and was hospitalized Dec. 24. Lab tests confirmed influenza as well as a bacterial pneumonia infection that did not respond to antibiotics, according to the Maine Bureau of Health.

Although flu cases have been reported in Maine for about a month, the season is just getting under way in earnest, said Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer, state epidemiologist.

“It’s January in Maine,” she said. “This is when we typically get hit.”

By all indications, the strain of influenza that’s striking across the country is not as severe as last year’s strain, and the vaccine that was developed for this season is a good match for it, officials say.

But the flu should not be taken lightly.

In Maine, about 300 people die each year from flu and its complications. Nationwide, the flu hospitalizes about 200,000 people and kills on average 36,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


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