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Posted: January 09, 2018

Girl dies of infection after flu misdiagnosis, family says


By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

VISALIA, Calif.  —

A 12-year-old California girl is dead after being misdiagnosed with the flu, according to her family.

Alyssa Alcaraz, of Visalia, died Dec. 17 of cardiac arrest, which was brought on by septic shock from a strep infection in her blood, KFSN in Fresno reported

The preteen’s family told the news station that she came home from school one day with what appeared to be food poisoning. A trip to the doctor resulted instead in a flu diagnosis.

When Alyssa did not get better after several days of rest at home, her mother again took her to an urgent care clinic. When the doctor there saw that her oxygen levels were low, she was rushed to a hospital, KFSN reported

Alyssa’s organs began shutting down within hours, and she later died. 

>> Read more trending news

Family members mourned the girl on social media. 

“Please continue to pray for me. My baby went to be with her God and her Grandma Rachel,” Alyssa’s father, Jeremy Alcaraz, wrote on Facebook the day after she died. “I’m so torn right now, it’s killing me.”

Her mother, Keila Lino, wrote on Christmas Day that the family visited Alyssa’s favorite spot, bringing along some of the girl’s stuffed unicorns, which she took everywhere.

“Christmas won’t be the same without you,” Lino wrote. “It was your favorite holiday, and you always looked forward to it every year.” 

Lino wrote earlier this week that she misses her daughter every day.

“Alyssa was a brave and strong young woman her entire life, even until her last breath of air,” her family wrote in her obituary. “(She) had a passion for music, (and) not a day went by that she wouldn’t sing her little heart out.”

“Now she’s singing with the angels.”

The Green Acres Middle School student, who enjoyed science and choir, loved cooking, baking and spending time with her family, the obituary read. 

Two GoFundMe pages were established, one on behalf of Alyssa’s mother and the other on behalf of her father, to help the family pay for her funeral and burial arrangements. The two pages have raised more than $15,000. 


Related

Family warns of dangers after 21-year-old dies of flu complications

A seemingly healthy and active 21-year-old from Pennsylvania has died of complications from the flu

"He was into physical fitness. He was going to school to be a personal trainer,” Kyler Baughman's mother, Beverly Baughman, told WPXI.

>> Read more trending news

He was working, going to school and celebrating Christmas with his family. 

"We saw him the 23rd for our family Christmas get together and we noticed he wasn't feeling well. He looked run-down and had a bit of a snotty nose,” Beverly said.

He celebrated with family again Christmas night, and returned to work Tuesday, but came home early because he wasn't feeling well.

"He kinda just laid down and went about his day and that was the day he was coughing and said his chest hurt, he had a mild cough,” said Baughman's fiancée, Olivia Marcanio. 

Within two days, Baguhman's health took a turn. He was running a fever on and off. 

On Wednesday, he went to the emergency room, then was flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where he died less than 24 hours later. 

His mom said it was from complications from the flu. 

"Organ failure due to septic shock caused by influenza,” Beverly Baughman said. 

The Baughmans are now left grieving a sudden and most unexpected loss. 

They're hoping by sharing his story, it could help save someone else. 

"Try and know your body; don't let things go. Whenever you have a fever and you have it multiple days, don't let it go,” said Kyler’s father, Todd Baughman. “Get it taken care of.”

"I think he thought, ‘I just got the flu, I'll be all right, I'll go rest a little bit.’ He was always on the go. I just think he ignored it and thought it would go away like most people, and I think people need to pay more attention to their bodies," Beverly Baughman said.

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  Tips to prevent getting colds and flu, remedies
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Tips to prevent getting colds and flu, remedies

Now is the right time for parents to take steps to protect young children from cold and flu viruses.

According to Dr. Hansa Bhargava, one of the nation’s top pediatricians, most colds and coughs go away by themselves because they are caused by viruses.

>> Read more trending stories  

Still, a healthy child may have a fever as an immune response because his immune system is fighting off the infection, she said.

“Personally, I try not to use a lot of over-the-counter drugs to treat my own children when they have colds, coughs and fever,” she said.

Bhargava offers the following tips to prevent young children from getting sick, some home remedies to try when they do and instances when you should call a doctor:

The two big weapons in keeping germs at bay are good hygiene and a flu vaccine.

  • Make regular hand-washing, especially before eating meals, routine.
  • Teach your child to sneeze or cough into a tissue or into his bent elbow instead of his hands. This will prevent him from spreading germs onto everything he touches.
  • Encourage good hygiene with sticker charts or rewards for such things as not putting their hands in their mouth.
  • Keep hand sanitizer within easy reach, but supervise younger children when using it. Older school-age kids can be given small bottles of hand sanitizer to carry with them in their backpacks.
  • If your child is over 6 months old, make sure they get a flu vaccine (kids ages 2 and older can start getting the nasal vaccine spray unless they have asthma or a very stuffy nose at the time of their doctor’s visit).

Remedies to help your child feel better

  • Get plenty of rest. Rest helps the body focus on getting well, so keep kids home from school.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Replenish liquids lost from fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Fluids also help loosen mucus.
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air in your child’s room moist which can help break up nasal and chest congestion.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about giving OTC cold and cough medicines. These medicines should not be given to children under 4.

For fever:

  • Sponge baths - using lukewarm water with a sponge. You can do this for 20-30 minutes to lower the body temperature and help your child feel better.

For colds:

  • Running the shower and then letting your child inhale the steam from it can help clear nasal congestion. For infants, using saline drops with an aspirator bulb a couple of times a day can help the baby breathe.

For coughs:

  • Use thick dark honey in kids who are over the age of 1. The thickness of the honey often calms the cough and is more effective than cough medicine in many cases.

For sore throats:

  • This is when the rules about sugar go out the window. Popsicles, ice cream and anything that is cold feels really good to children with sore throats. You can also freeze 100 percent juice and make your own popsicles.

Call a doctor if your child experiences these symptoms

  • Excessive trouble breathing
  • An earache
  • A fever greater than 101 degrees that lasts longer than 72 hours
  • A persistent cough
  • Vomiting, by itself, or after coughing
  • Swelling of the sinuses or tonsils

Researchers say new drug could end the flu as we know it

A study last year shed light on a new drug that researchers were hoping might end the flu as we know it.

University of Washington researchers co-authored the study that was published in  the journal PLOS Pathogens.

>> Read more trending stories

The revolutionary new drug is called HB36.6. In lab studies it was a treatment for the flu, but more importantly, it seemed it could also prevent a victim from ever developing the flu.

The drug appeared to cover multiple strains of the flu. Scientists said the drug would be far more effective than Tamiflu, if the results of lab work on mice also applied to the human body. 

In the study, lab mice were given a single dose of HB36.6 via the nose. Two days later, they were injected with the 2009 strain of the H1N1 pandemic flu virus that killed more than a half million people in Asia.

The mice were completely protected and did not develop any flu symptoms.

Mice that were exposed to the H1N1 flu first were also protected with the new drug.

Researchers also found that a single dose of HB36.6 was more effective in mice than 10 doses of Tamiflu. 

Researchers believe the anti-flu drug could also work just as effectively in people with weakened immune systems.

Researchers, also at the University of Washington, now believe flu shots could be a thing of the past soon

>> Related: Universal vaccine could end annual flu shots and eventually work for other viruses, too

A new “universal” vaccine uses genetic material of the influenza virus – the part that doesn't mutate – and teaches the body to recognize it, researchers said.

The vaccine is given through “little micro injections into skin cells.”

It could mean the end of the annual flu shot, but is still five to 10 years in the future.

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