Pediatric flu deaths continue to rise - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Pediatric flu deaths continue to rise

Leonardo Bentley died from flu complications. (Source: GoFundMe) Leonardo Bentley died from flu complications. (Source: GoFundMe)
ASHTABULA, OH (WOIO) - Traditionally, the elderly are those who not only get the flu more often, but die from it. However, the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show that pediatric deaths are on the rise, including a baby from northeast Ohio.
 
At just 4 months old, Leonardo Bentley is not your typical flu victim, but his tiny body just couldn't handle what the flu did. He died over the weekend, due to complications from the illness.

"Young kids may not have seen certain strains of the flu. So, the first time somebody is exposed to a specific strain, it can be more severe," explained Dr. Camille Sabella, of Cleveland Clinic Children's

The Ashtabula infant is 1 of 26 influenza-associated deaths among children reported so far this flu season. Most kids who get the flu, can fight it, but some go on to develop complications, like Leonardo did, such as pneumonia, which can lead to respiratory failure. Kids with underlying health problems, like asthma, have an even tougher time. 

What's different this year is many of the kids being hospitalized with the flu are perfectly healthy prior to getting the virus. 

Sabella says children under 5 are in one of the groups at the greatest risk for being hospitalized with the flu.

"A vaccine will certainly protect you, for the most part, against the flu. Like any vaccine, it's not 100 percent effective. But some protection -- even if the vaccine provides some protection -- is certainly better than no protection," said Sabella.
 
Dr. Sabella says if your child has the flu and seems to get better, but then develops breathing problems, higher fevers, or won't eat or drink, it's best to see a doctor.

A friend of the Bentley family has set up an account to help with funeral expenses and a tombstone. Visit their GoFundMe page if you'd like to help.

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