Flu suspected in death of 5-Year-Old NYC girl: What parents should know about the latest outbreak

The latest flu fatality this year marks the fourth child flu death of the season in NYC alone, with more than 60 such fatalities nationwide.

According to the New York Post, Elisa Murray, 5, was pronounced dead late Saturday night at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, after being discovered unresponsive by her mother at their Canarsie home around 9 p.m. that evening.

CBS2 reports that the NYC Medical Examiner’s Office is still running tests to confirm the exact cause of death. Sources told the network that Murray’s mother had been trying to knock her daughter’s fever down on the day prior to the girl’s passing, administering Tylenol and giving her a cold bath.

If suspicions of flu are confirmed, Murray’s case will be the city’s fourth pediatric death caused by the virus in the past two weeks. Nationwide deaths are also climbing, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report ” listing 63 pediatric deaths across the U.S. through Feb. 3.

An archival report listed 20 pediatric deaths at the same time last year. The New York Times reports that we’re in the midst of the worst flu season in a decade—since the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

The current flu season, which the New York State Department of Health defines as the period between Oct. and May, has been especially brutal for children and adults.

Several flu strains circulate in the population each year, against which that season’s flu shot is formulated to inoculate. This season, according to another report in The Times, the flu shot is estimated to be about 30% effective against the particularly aggressive H3N2 virus that is causing the uptick in fatalities.

The CDC reports 20,512 positive tests nationwide for this strain, while there were only 13,973 reported at the same time last year. Doctors still recommend that most patients get the flu shot—even halfway through the season—because it can lessen the severity of flu sickness when contracted, if not prevent it completely.

Most recover from the flu without medical intervention, but younger, older, and chronically ill people are at higher risk for complications. The Times report notes that emergency room visits in the state have been on the rise since the beginning of this flu season, with an 11.5% increase in lab-confirmed flu cases.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to immunize children between the ages of 2 and 18, in hopes of making it more convenient for the flu shot to be taken. Previously, only physicians could vaccinate New Yorkers under the age of 18.

[Feature Photo: Pixabay]