As flu is on the rise, mom says: 'I didn't know I was going to lose my baby' to the flu

If it seems like you know a lot of people who've come down with the flu lately, you're on to something....

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 6:13 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 6:13 PM

If it seems like you know a lot of people who've come down with the flu lately, you're on to something.

Nineteen states now have high levels of flu activity, according to numbers released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's more than double the number of states from the previous week.

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The number of children who died also increased. Two children's deaths related to the flu were reported in the week ending December 29, bringing the flu's death toll for children to 13 for this season, according to the CDC.

Crystal White Shield knows the toll flu can take.

She lost her 6-year-old daughter, Allison Eaglespeaker, to flu on December 1.

Allison, a kindergartner in Missoula, Montana, loved to dance and to hang out with her big brother, Matt, and her little sister, Daisy.

"She was a beautiful little girl," her mother said. "We were blessed with her life, and we miss her dearly."

Allison's mother wants other parents to be aware of how quickly flu can take a child's life. Her daughter died less than 48 hours after she first had symptoms of the flu.

"This illness hit her really hard and really fast," she said. "I didn't know I was going to lose my baby."

Dr. William Schaffner, who studies the flu, says that's not unusual; when flu kills a child, it often happens quickly.

He said it's not known why flu is a relatively mild illness for the vast majority of children and deadly to only a small percentage. Last year, flu killed 185 children, the highest number of pediatric flu deaths in a regular flu season, according to the CDC.

Allison had mild asthma, but about half the children who die from the flu were healthy before flu hit, according to the CDC.

This year's predominant strain, H1N1, also known as swine flu, tends to disproportionately affect children and adults under 50, said Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

He said that's because similar strains were circulating about 40 to 50 years ago.

"Older people may have been infected with cousins of H1N1 years ago, and that gives them residual protection," Schaffner said.

The H1N1 strain tends to cause milder illness than H3N2, the predominant strain during last year's particularly severe flu season, and vaccination tends to be more effective against H1N1 than H3N2.

Even though the flu season is underway, there are still potentially several months of the season left, and it's not too late to get a flu shot. The vaccine is recommended for everyone except infants under the age of 6 months.

Although the vaccine won't prevent all cases of the flu, it lessens the severity and duration of symptoms, and those who get flu after receiving a vaccine are less likely to require hospitalization and less likely to die.

Of the 185 children who died from the flu last year, 80% had not received a flu shot, according to the CDC.

Once someone gets the flu, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and hasten recovery, and reduce complications and hospitalizations. The drugs work best when started soon after someone gets sick.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21315

Reported Deaths: 890
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7168539
Ramsey243797
Stearns195012
Nobles14692
Anoka121056
Dakota110235
Olmsted56210
Washington52729
Kandiyohi4681
Rice3862
Clay37324
Scott3582
Wright2531
Sherburne2142
Todd2040
Mower1891
Carver1742
Benton1672
Steele1410
Martin1255
Blue Earth1151
St. Louis11113
Freeborn930
Pine850
Winona7815
Carlton730
Nicollet695
Cottonwood640
Otter Tail600
Polk592
Watonwan560
Crow Wing561
Goodhue552
Itasca537
Chisago481
Dodge440
Chippewa420
Meeker420
Le Sueur411
Jackson390
Morrison380
Becker370
Murray350
Lyon340
Douglas290
Isanti280
McLeod270
Waseca250
Unassigned229
Rock210
Mille Lacs171
Fillmore171
Swift160
Wabasha160
Brown122
Beltrami120
Faribault120
Sibley120
Wilkin113
Cass112
Kanabec111
Norman110
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Pennington90
Pope80
Aitkin60
Wadena60
Koochiching60
Yellow Medicine60
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Lincoln50
Clearwater30
Big Stone30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Red Lake30
Redwood30
Grant20
Houston20
Roseau10
Hubbard10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17533

Reported Deaths: 456
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3774108
Woodbury262424
Black Hawk168239
Linn93575
Marshall87011
Dallas85714
Johnson6027
Muscatine54539
Wapello5144
Crawford4862
Tama39423
Scott3379
Louisa3347
Dubuque32316
Jasper25616
Buena Vista2430
Pottawattamie2126
Sioux2070
Washington1808
Wright1220
Allamakee1184
Plymouth1160
Warren1110
Story951
Poweshiek888
Mahaska856
Bremer676
Henry611
Clinton601
Des Moines551
Boone550
Cedar461
Guthrie433
Taylor390
Benton371
Jones360
Clarke350
Iowa330
Monroe334
Osceola320
Buchanan320
Shelby310
Clayton303
Marion290
Webster271
Hamilton260
Fayette260
Monona240
Madison241
Winneshiek230
Lee220
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Harrison190
Jefferson180
Floyd181
Mills160
Cherokee160
Butler150
Delaware150
Keokuk140
Greene130
Sac130
Hardin130
Humboldt130
Ida130
Howard120
Jackson120
Appanoose123
Hancock120
Audubon111
Cass110
Van Buren100
Clay100
Page100
Winnebago100
Carroll90
Dickinson90
Franklin80
Adair80
Chickasaw80
Emmet70
Union70
Kossuth70
Unassigned60
Lucas60
Montgomery60
Adams50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Pocahontas40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur00
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