MIAMI (CBSMiami) — An active, seemingly healthy South Florida boy, got sick and suddenly died from what his family says was the flu.
Now his family is hoping this tragedy spurs every other parent out there to know the symptoms and do something right away if your child seems sick.
More than 30 children nationwide have died so far this season.
“It was an aggressive form of the flu,” said the victim’s stepfather Mike Medwin.
The parents of 12-year-old Dylan Winnick are pleading for other parents to treat this season’s flu epidemic seriously.
His mother’s partner, Mike Medwin, can’t believe the virus could take Dylan away.
“You shrug your shoulders. No way. We’re healthy. You know, the kids’ playing soccer. He’s strong. You know, he’s getting ready to go to school,” said Medwin.
Investigators are performing an autopsy to determine Dylan’s exact cause of death. He reportedly did not have a flu shot. His brother, Sebastian, says Dylan was healthy and enjoyed playing outside.
“No family should feel the pain that we’re going through right now,” said the victim’s brother Sebastian Roa.
Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke with CBS4 this afternoon about the importance of getting vaccinated.
He says so far, over 10,000 children and employees have received the flu shot in Miami-Dade.
He is also making sure all staff members send letters home to parents with how they can prevent getting sick.
“Sadly the threat of influenza this time around is eminent, it is real and very serious,” Carvalho said. “As a parent, have the child vaccinated. If you’re an adult, get the vaccine. It is the best preventive tool in the toolbox.”
He also has some tips for parents and teachers to follow.
“Wash your hands frequently, disinfect high trafficked areas such as handles, make sure that if you are sick, make sure you do not shake hands,” he said. “If you cough, do it into a tissue or into your sleeve, not into your hands.”
While states are not required to report flu deaths in adults to federal health officials, they are required to report flu deaths in children.
Over the past decade, flu-related pediatric deaths have ranged from a low of 37 between 2011 and 2012 to a high of 288 between 2009 and 2010. So far this season, the virus has killed more than 30 children in at least 23 states.
That number will likely continue to rise. Flu season can continue as late as May.
Rachel Orscheln is a professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“It’s difficult to predict what will happen with the curve of influenza. We certainly are seeing a high peak right now and we don’t know if we’re gonna be on the way down from that in terms of the number of cases or if it’s going to continue to be transmitted at a high level,” said Orscheln.
It’s especially important to take steps to prevent and treat the flu because it can create further health complications.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week discovered that people with the flu – especially the elderly – are six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with the virus than those who aren’t.