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Wilson County Toddler Fourth N.C. Child To Die From Virus; Sibling Hospitalized

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State health officials confirmed Wednesday that a 15-month-old Elm City boy has died from the flu, becoming the fourth North Carolina child to die from the illness this flu season.

State health officialsis said Dylan Ramsey Dilbug Thomas, was healthy but had not been immunized against the flu. He appeared to be in good health until he woke up with a fever at 4:30 a.m. Monday.

Louis Latour, Wilson County Health Department director, said the boy had a temperature of 103 degrees when he was taken to Wilson Medical Center around 11 a.m. Monday. Dr. James Bush tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the boy.

"It was a healthy child at 4:30 in the morning and died at 11," Latour said.

An autopsy confirmed the boy died from one of the more serious forms of influenza, type A, Latour said.The autopsy did not show any signs of secondary infection.

The boy's 3-year-old brother, Zachary Andrews, is being monitored at Nash General Hospital in Rocky Mount after also experiencing a high fever Monday night. His fever, which reached 103.8 degrees, was down to 99.5 degrees by Wednesday morning, said his mother, April Andrews.

He was listed in stable condition Thursday.

Andrews, told WRAL she could not find flu shots for the boys. When they each woke with a fever, she thought medicine and rest would be best for them.

"He was so full of life," Andrews said of Dylan. "He was so eager to learn. At 15 months old he was already talking, fixing to be potty trained. [He had] pretty blonde hair, brown eyes."

Andrews said her young son loved animals, and one of the final things he did was give his dog, Woody, a hug.

A graveside service for Dylan is planned for Friday in Wilson.

Meanwhile, Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital, which serves Harnett, Cumberland, Sampson and Johnston counties, has placed restrictions on who can visit the 101-bed facility. It is requesting that people with any flulike symptoms and children under the age of 12 not visit patients.

Several area hospitals have imposed similar restrictions in an effort to protect patients, visitors and staff from the flu and related illnesses.

North Carolina averages 15 child deaths a year from flu and pneumonia. Flu and its complications are the sixth-leading cause ofdeath nationally among children aged 4 and younger, said Dr. Leah Devlin, the state health director.

The early start to the flu season has caught the public's attention, Devlin said.

"However, at this point, we can't say that this flu season is any worse than past seasons," she said.

Two to three shipments of additional flu vaccine are expected during the next month and will be distributed as quickly as possible to local health departments, Devlin said.

Three other North Carolina boys have died this month from the flu: a 6-year-old Montgomery boy; a 3-year-old Wilkes County boy; and a 22-month-old Wake County boy.

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