NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Flu fears were on the rise Sunday, after the virus a fourth child died in New York City Saturday night after suffering flu symptoms.
More than 60 children nationwide have been killed by the flu this year compared to only 20 this time last year. The most recent victim, a 5-year-old girl in Brooklyn, had flu-like symptoms on Friday.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the 5-year-old girl was found dead in her home in Brownsville just one day after a third New York City child died from the virus.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office was still running tests late Sunday to determine the precise cause of the girl’s death. But sources said the day before that little girl died, her mother was trying to get her fever to break — giving her Tylenol even putting her in a cold bath.
But it was already too late.
The medicine did bring the girl’s temperature down, only for it to spike back up soon after, sources said. Sources say her mother found her unresponsive Saturday evening.
The girl was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
Nelson Martis heard the mother’s desperate pleas through his apartment door Saturday evening.
“She was sitting on the floor holding her daughter; cradling her daughter, just trying to say: ‘Wake up! Don’t leave me, please!’” Martis said.
Martis and other neighbors called 911 and tried to help the mother resuscitate her child.
“I tried, but I think the daughter was already gone,” he said.
When medics arrived, the mother was inconsolable.
“They were a family that was always together – everywhere she went, the kids went with her,” Martis said. “Never seen them apart.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if the girl was vaccinated, but with more than two months left in the season officials say it isn’t too late — everyone should be.
The girl’s death came just one day after the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported a third New York City child died from influenza so far this season. Nationally, that number is 63 children.
“It’s scary because it’s a reality now,” Martis said. “You can read it in the news, but when it’s at your door, it’s a reality.”
This season’s severity now rivals the 2009 swine flu pandemic, with the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control showing one out of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for flu-like illnesses.
Acting Director for the CDC Dr. Anne Schuchat says they’ve counted more hospitalizations for the flu this season than even the severe 2014-2015 season. Local health professionals have even noticed the unusual surge.
“We’re seeing an average of 150 a day,” Dr. Michael Tugetman said.
Officials remind everyone the flu season runs through may, so there’s still plenty of time to get vaccinated.