A 10-year-old Connecticut boy died in New York last weekend after being diagnosed with the flu, officials say.
Nico Mallozzi, a fourth-grader at West Elementary School in New Canaan, was upstate in Buffalo for a hockey event when he suddenly died , schools superintendent Bryan D. Luizzi said.
Mallozzi had been diagnosed with Influenza B, a strain of the flu spreading rapidly in the northeast; it's not clear, however, if the flu caused the boy's death, according to Luizzi.
Flu type B leads to complications of pneumonia and then to sepsis, where pneumonia overwhelms the immune system, according to Dr. David M. Reed, public director of health in New Canaan.
It's not clear if the boy had been vaccinated against the flu or if a medical history played a role in his death. Reed warned, however, that "we're having a much higher flu season than in the past."
As a precaution, custodians have been performing extra cleanings at all school buildings in the New Canaan school district, and they'll continue to do so through the flu season, Luizzi said, although he reminded parents that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person only two to eight hours after being deposited on a surface. Special santizing processes beyond routine cleaning aren't necessary or recommended, the CDC says, but Luizzi says extra cleanings will continue for the next few months.
"Nico was a wonderful, friendly child, known throughout West as the voice of the afternoon announcements that concluded each day," Luizzi said in a letter to the school community. "He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered."
Last Friday, New York state reported its first child death from the flu this season amid a sharp rise in cases over the last week, and new cases being reported in 61 of the state's 62 counties. The Health Department would say little about that case, only confirming that the child was from the downstate region encompassing the New York City metro and Long Island.
As of Jan. 6, there have been 11,280 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu reported and 3,606 people have been hospitalized in the state this season, according to the Health Department.
Last year, eight children died in New York State from influenza. There were 12,912 flu-related hospitalizations.
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