A 7-year-old girl from Indiana has died of the flu less than a day after a hospital visit.
Savanna Jessie, a first grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Columbus, Indiana, passed away Friday morning after being diagnosed with influenza B, strep throat, and scarlet fever, WBRC reports. According to family members, the girl’s father had taken her to the hospital on Thursday, Feb. 1, before returning home. He found his daughter unresponsive in bed the next morning. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
“We got news Friday that she had been sick and that he had taken her to the hospital Thursday evening. And that after they left the hospital, he took her home, put her in bed, and then found her Friday morning,” Savanna’s aunt Courtney Hargett said. “Everybody is devastated. You never expect it to happen to you, ever.”
Savanna Jessie’s death comes as fear of the flu spreads, with the CDC reporting at the beginning of the month that influenza had already claimed the lives of 53 children.
Speaking on Friday, acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat said that this year's flu season is the worst since the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic. Her statement comes on the heels of new research from Canada that revealed that this year’s flu vaccine is 14% less effective than originally thought, meaning that it is just 20% effective against the dominant H3N2 strain.
“That means people who were vaccinated should not consider themselves invincible for this season,” said lead researcher Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an infectious diseases expert at the BC Center for Disease Control.
Among the children lost this flu season is 15-year-old Kira Molina of Georgia, who passed away on Jan. 30. Kevin Baynes, 7, passed away on Jan. 29 just two days after being diagnosed with influenza, and Michael Messenger, a 12-year-old Michigan boy died of the flu on Jan. 11 after testing negative for influenza.
The flu has also claimed the lives of several adults, with a 27-year-old California woman, Katharine Gallagher, passing away in December, and a 21-year-old body builder from Pennsylvania dying of organ failure due to septic shock caused by the flu that same month. Single mother of two Tandy Harmon, 36, of Gresham, Oregon passed away on Jan. 19 after being diagnosed.