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No official cases yet in Branch County, but flu starting to hit in Michigan

COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - The Branch-Hillsdale-St Joseph Health Agency in Coldwater hasn’t yet officially reported any flu cases for the season in Branch County, but if one county in West Michigan is an indicator, it might be an early start for the flu this fall. WOOD-TV 8 in Grand Rapids says the Kent County Health Department is reporting the first seven cases of the flu this season, more than the number of cases listed at the same time last year. They say it took until November to reach that number of cases a year ago.

As flu season sets in, health officials have a warning for parents: even the healthiest kids are at risk of dying from influenza, according to a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study found that of the 830 U-S children who died from the flu between 2004 and 2012, more than 40% did not have any underlying medical condition that would put them at risk for complications, such as asthma or heart disease. Pediatrician Dr. Lia Gaggino says the flu can spiral downward very quickly for even the healthiest kids.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all those older than six months be vaccinated against the flu, if there are no health reasons preventing the immunizations - such as allergies. Frequent hand-washing and sanitation of public surfaces can also minimize virus exposure. Gaggino stresses that while the vaccine can trigger a short-lived immune response that could cause some fatigue or soreness, there is no way to contract the virus from a flu shot or nasal spray. 158 U-S children, including seven in Michigan, died from influenza-related causes during the 2012-2013 flu season.