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Flu kills a 20-year-old woman: how common is it to die of the flu?

A 20-year-old Arizona mother died a few days after she was diagnosed with the flu. Although his death is tragic, fortunately it is rare among patients with influenza.

According to reports from Buzzfeed and the local media, Alani Murrieta died on November 28 of a flu that became pneumonia the day after she went to an urgent care clinic. He is survived by two small children.

The type of influenza that it had was also among the most common found in the United States during the last week for which data were available: influenza A.

Influenza and pneumonia are the eighth most common cause of death among Americans. But according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been fewer deaths from flu than usual.

"Influenza is an unpleasant virus that can strike a perfectly healthy child or young adult in the prime of life," Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (Schaffner did not examine Murrieta.) "It's just a sinister annual lesson," he said, and Murrieta's case could reinforce that everyone should get vaccinated. However, Schaffner noted that, for the most part, the complications of influenza affect people who are older and people who have other medical conditions.

According to the WONDER database of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks how people die, among other things, almost a million people died of influenza or pneumonia between 1999 and 2015. That is approximately 19 per each 100,000 people However, it is a much more common cause of death for people who are over 80 years old.

 GettyImages-460993847 A bottle of vaccine against influenza is seen at MinuteClinic at CVS / pharmacy on January 6, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

People who are little more than 20 years old, like Murrieta, are among the groups least likely to die from the flu and pneumonia ; less than one person in this age group died of flu for every 100,000 people. Only children over the age of five and adolescents have lower mortality rates related to the flu.

This year's flu season can be particularly bad. As previously reported in Newsweek doctors warn that the flu vaccine may not be able to protect against the strains that people are likely to have this year. (Murrieta had not received the flu vaccine, according to Buzzfeed ). That strain, called H3N2, is also associated with more people treated in hospitals and more people dying, Schaffner said.

"Voltaire warned us that waiting for perfection was the great enemy of the current good," Schaffner said. "We have a pretty good vaccine that each and every year does a lot of good." Even if the vaccine does not prevent every case of flu, people who have received the vaccine usually have a milder infection. It can also help prevent the disease from spreading to the most vulnerable people.

There are some other things that people can do to prevent the spread of the flu, said Nicole Capone, public information officer with the Arizona Department of Health. Services. "Remember to cover your cough, wash your hands and stay home when you are sick," he said. "The flu is unpredictable, but this season, we're seeing more cases early in the season than we usually do."

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