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Aurora 3-year-old is first child to die from flu in Illinois this season; health officials urge vaccine – Chicago Tribune

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Aurora 3-year-old is first child to die from flu in Illinois this season; health officials urge vaccine – Chicago Tribune

Kane County health officials are urging people to get flu shots after a 3-year-old girl died from flu-related complications last month at an Aurora hospital.

The girl, of Aurora, died Dec. 21 at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said.

“She was a healthy little girl for the most part,” Russell said. “She had the flu for a couple of days at home, and like any parent would do, they treated it and gave her bed rest.”

After the child could not hold any food or water, her parents took her to the hospital and she was treated in the emergency room, he said.

“She started eating a popsicle and I guess at some point she went unconscious,” Russell said.

The coroner said he was unable to find any congenital or pre-existing medical issues and her doctors said she was up to date on her immunizations, but he does not know if that includes receiving a flu shot, Russell said.

The Aurora child is one of 13 pediatric deaths nationwide this flu season, and is the first flu-related death in Illinois this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Anytime there is a child death, it is immensely tragic,” Kane County Health Department spokesman Tom Schlueter said. “We are at the point of the season when influenza starts to increase and every year, frankly, it’s an epidemic.”

Last April, 5-year-old Mia Lobo from Carpentersville died from complications of the flu.

Carpentersville 5-year-old dies of flu complications: ‘She was the most loving, beautiful girl’ »

“Probably hundreds and thousands of kids get the flu, and I think even some kids at her school had the flu,” Russell said about the 3-year-old who recently died. “Why she came to it, I don’t know. A lot of times it is a perfect storm.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports children younger than 5 years old — and especially those younger than 2 years old — are at high risk of serious flu-related complications due to their limited immune system.

Children 6 months old and younger typically have antibodies in their system passed on by their mothers, and after that, it can take children up to five years to develop a strong immune system.

During the 2017-18 season, 185 children died of flu complications in the United States, officials from the Centers for Disease Control said.

Officials there said the risk from flu is currently high in Illinois. It is one of 24 states designated by the group as having widespread flu activity.

Schlueter is reminding residents that it is never too late in the season to get a flu shot.

Vaccines are not 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, but those vaccinated will have fewer complications, Schlueter said.

The flu shot takes two weeks to take full effect, officials said.

“I make sure to get a flu shot every single year because when I don’t I get really sick,” Russell said.

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Twitter @MeganA_Jones

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