Local News

Officials Confirm 2 More N.C. Flu Deaths; Say Peak Of Season Near

Posted December 30, 2003

— The flu has claimed the lives of two more North Carolina children, making them the seventh and eighth children in the state to die as a result of this season's flu.

State health officials confirmed Monday that a 3-month old boy in Edgecombe County died two days before Christmas and that a 3-year old girl died Christmas day.

On average, 15 children die in North Carolina from the flu. The latest child deaths have people wondering if this season's deadly bug has peaked or if the worst is still to come.

State health officials said the flu has hit harder and earlier than it usually does. But they think it is close to the peak and that the number of cases should start falling soon.

Try telling that to parents who have to rush their children to emergency rooms with high fevers.

A fever of just below 100 degrees hardly is considered healthy. But for 16-month-old Mia Busick, it is a major improvement.

"Christmas day, she woke up, and it was a totally different story," said Mia's father, Mike. "It was a high, high, fever. Her skin was boiling."

Mia's temperature shot up to 105. That is when her parents raced her to the emergency room.

"It really was scary," Mike said.

Mike and his wife, Megan, could not believe how quickly their daughter's illness came on.

"Seeing such a small baby become so lethargic within 24 hours, and so dehydrated, you can see how the complications can quickly lead to the results," Megan said.

The tragic results of death: eight so far in North Carolina.

"It is happening quicker and a little earlier than what we typically see," said Dr. Steve Cline, of the North Carolina Health Department.

Dr. Cline said the peak flu season is usually late January to early February. But he hopes this is as bad as it gets.

"We believe we're at the top or close to the top of the current outbreak," Cline said.

So like young Mia, North Carolina should soon be recovering from the flu.

"We're watching her closely," her father said. "But I think she's starting to return to her old self, so I think that's something to be thankful for; that's for sure."

Dr. Cline still recommends that young children and older adults get a flu shot. But that is not a guarantee fix -- three of the eight children who died, and as well as Mia Busick, all had flu shots and still got sick.

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