A six-year-old girl has died from the flu, health department officials confirmed.
Nevaeh Hernandez, of North Bergen, New Jersey, died Monday and is the second flu-related child death in the state, it was revealed Tuesday.
North Bergen school officials, who said they have disinfected the schools in that area, will provide free flu vaccines to students to stop the spread of the virus.
This season’s flu strain has killed at least 63 children since October, and accounts for about nine percent of deaths nationwide – well above epidemic proportions, and experts say it’s getting worse.
Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover medical, funeral and memorial costs.
North Bergen School Superintendent Dr George Solter said he is taking every precaution to make schools a safe environment, and added that the school district is working with the local health department to provide free flu vaccines to students.
‘During the last three weeks each desk in our schools have been disinfected with bleach, in addition our custodians have been spraying disinfectant on door knobs, handles, toilets, sinks and other surfaces to help prevent the virus from spreading,’ Dr Solter said.
‘We are also urging parents to not send their kids in to school if they are suffering from flu like symptoms and to get them medical assistance if they are,’ he added.
HOW CAN THE FLU BE DEADLY?
Flu often leaves sufferers feeling sick and riddled with a constant cough and runny nose. However, in extreme cases it can be deadly.
It poses the biggest risks to the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with a compromised immune system.
Asthma, diabetes and heart disease patients also face an increased risk of death from the usually harmless virus.
But the flu, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 37 children and 85 adults in the US, can cause potentially fatal complications, for adults of any age.
It can lead to pneumonia and also trigger sepsis – an infection that sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs.
This flu season is on track to becoming one of the worst in recent history, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus is widespread in 48 states, including New Jersey, after Oregon dropped down to regional level to join Hawaii.
Experts predict the pediatric death toll could climb to 150 by the end of March.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness. Complications of the virus can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
The dominant H3N2 strain, dubbed the ‘Aussie flu’, has been wreaking havoc this year and the flu vaccine is only 34 percent effective against this particular strain.
However, CDC officials are urging everyone to get their flu shot and say it is not too late as the vaccine is even more effective against the H1N1 and B viruses, which killed Aaron.
This year’s flu is set to becoming one of the worst in recent history and already has the highest rate of hospitalizations than any other year.
On Friday, Dr Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC’s Influenza Division, said this is an unusual pattern for the flu as health officials expected activity to have already reached its peak at this time – but it continues to get worse.
Experts and health officials are warning everyone to take extra precaution to prevent the spread of the flu by washing your hands regularly and avoiding contact with everyone.
Since people can harbor the flu virus whether they look ill or not, doctors are urging everyone to be vigilant.
‘Supporting one’s immune system with good rest and adequate hydration may help reduce the severity of symptoms,’ Dr Brian Secemsky, an internist at One Medical in San Francisco, told Daily Mail Online in a previous interview.
‘Washing hands often, wearing masks, and staying home from work during periods of fever can help reduce the transmission of the virus,’ he added.
THE AMERICAN VICTIMS WHO DIED OF THE FLU THIS SEASON
Katharine Gallagher, 27, died on December 5, 2017, in her Tustin, California, home.
The Boston University graduate started experiencing flu-like symptoms on Thursday night and went to the doctor on Sunday where was sent home with antibiotics.
Two days later her boyfriend came home to find her dead on the bathroom floor after she appeared to be getting better that morning .
She had caught severe acute bronchial pneumonia.
Jonah Smith, 17, died December 29, 2017, when his heart stopped beating in the backseat of his sister’s car.
His family said he showed no flu-like symptoms except he had complained of a backache, but continued to go to work at a fast-food restaurant and see friends.
After his death, doctors confirmed that the teen from Arizona had the flu and pneumonia and believe he may have suffered from an underlying medical condition, though he was never known to have one.
Kyler Baughmen, 21, became sick on December 23, 2017, with a mild cough and runny nose.
The body builder celebrated Christmas and went back to work December 26, but the following day was rushed to the hospital.
He died on December 28 from kidney failure due to septic shock caused by the flu.
Katie Oxley Thomas, 40, of San Jose, California, died of the flu just 48 hours of falling ill.
The mother-of-three and marathon runner’s condition declined so quickly that she was moved to intensive care, placed on life support and died all in the span of 15 hours on January 4, 2018.
Her family said she had received her flu shot before getting sick.
Jenny Ching, 51, went to the hospital in Massachusetts with flu-like symptoms.
After being diagnosed with the flu she developed an infection and pneumonia.
The mother-of-two died on January 6, 2018, just a week after being diagnosed.
Jonah Rieben, four, died on January 6, 2018, just hours after first showing symptoms, making him the first child to die from the flu in Ohio this season.
The boy who loved to play with his 16 adoptive siblings was born with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes heart defects and developmental delays. Doctors are still investigating if his condition contributed to his death.
Jonah’s older brother, who also suffers from a disorder, is in the hospital with a severe case of the flu.
Nico Mallozzi, 10, of New Canaan in Connecticut, had been sick and bed-bound all weekend during the hockey tournament in Buffalo, New York, forcing him to miss every game.
Eventually, he was hospitalized and diagnosed with Influenza B, which had developed into pneumonia and caused sepsis.
He died on Sunday January 14, 2018, in a Buffalo hospital.
Zainab Momin, a third-grader of Montgomery, Alabama, died on Tuesday January 16, 2018.
She died in hospital the day her school was closed due to snowy weather.
More details are pending about her specific case and symptoms.
She is the first child to die of the flu in Alabama this season.
Amanda Franks, 38, was killed by the flu on January 17 after being diagnosed just three days prior.
The mother-of-four from New Hampshire was prescribed Tamiflu but did not take it because ‘the doctor said the side effects were a lot of times worse than the flu’.
Septic shock set in and she died in the ambulance on her way to the hospital.
Emily Grace Muth, six, was killed by the flu on Friday January 19, 2018.
She first fell ill on that Tuesday and went to urgent care where she received Tamiflu.
By Friday her breathing was labored and her mother called the ambulance but they said to keep her hydrated and she would be okay within a week.
Hours later she stopped breathing and died.
Tandy Harmon, a 36-year-old mother-of-two in Oregon died on Friday, January 19, 2018.
She went to the hospital with flu symptoms on Wednesday, but was told to go home to rest and hydrate.
Hours later, Harmon was back in the emergency room, where she quickly declined and had to be placed on life support by that evening.
Harmon had developed MRSA and pneumonia and died two days later.
Lily Kershaw, 5, died of the flu on January 22 in Nebraska.
She was the first child to die of flu-related causes in the state so far this season, although there have been 21 adult fatalities so far.
More details are pending about her specific case and symptoms.
Dylan Winnik, 12, died of the flu on Tuesday January 23, 2018.
He fell ill two days earlier and his parents thought he had the common cold because his symptoms were mild.
The seventh-grader died two days later.
Dylan is the first flu death in Palm Beach County, Florida, this season.
Savanna Jessie, seven, was killed by the flu on Thursday February 1, 2018.
The first-grader was found unresponsive in her Columbus, Indiana, home the morning after she was taken to the hospital where she received treatment but was sent home and put to bed.
She tested positive for influenza B, strep throat and scarlet fever at the time of her death.