The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday the first flu-related child death of the year.
A state health official said the child was a 6-year-old girl from Haverhill.
The child’s flu was confirmed by a clinical test and their symptoms, according to a statement from the department.
The state, citing federal data, said there have been 63 reported flu-related child deaths across the country during this flu season.
State health officials are urging those who have not received a flu shot to get vaccinated.
“This is a tragic reminder of how serious the flu can be for some people,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel in a statement. “Every flu season is different, but every flu season is bad. This one arrived early and continues to spread, leading many people throughout the Commonwealth to get sick.’’
The Essex district attorney’s office, meanwhile, could not confirm the flu-related death Tuesday, but did say that investigators believe a 6-year-old Haverhill girl, Delilah Lovelace, died on Monday from a “medical issue.”
Foul play is not suspected, said Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the Essex DA.
Asked if that death investigation involved the same girl who died of the flu, Kimball Monahan said, “We are not investigating any other child fatality under the age of 10.”
James Scully, the superintendent for Haverhill public schools, said in an e-mail Tuesday night that he had “no specific knowledge as to the cause of the child’s death.”
Messages left with other Haverhill school officials were not immediately returned Tuesday night.
The majority of flu-like cases are not reported, according to a statement from state health officials. Still, there have been more than 8,100 confirmed cases in Massachusetts during this flu season, according to the state.
The flu virus, said health officials, is spread through droplets of saliva and mucus from the nose and mouth. That means being within three to six feet of someone with the flu when they cough or sneeze could put someone at risk of catching the illness.
Adults, according to state officials, can spread the flu one day before symptoms appear to about one week after symptoms are gone. Children can spread the flu for even longer after they get sick, according to the state.
The state advises people to stay home when they are sick if possible, to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, and to cover their coughs and sneezes.Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.