Cuyahoga County Teen Is Ohio's First Pediatric Flu Death

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A 16-year-old Berea teen, Kaylee Roberts, died of complications from the flu on New Year's Eve, according to Cuyahoga County Board of Health officials.

This is the first pediatric flu death in Ohio for the 2019 flu season, said Dr. Mark Hurst, Medical Director for the Ohio Department of Health.

Roberts was hospitalized at one point and later developed pneumonia, Cuyahoga County health officials said.

State health officials do not track adult flu deaths, only pediatric deaths. There have been 20 pediatric flu-related deaths across the country, Hurst said.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by the family, Roberts died unexpectedly after a short illness.

“She was such a beautiful, caring, hardworking, and intelligent young lady. She had such an amazing kindness about her and cared so much for so many family and friends. Kaylee was an exceptional singer, animal lover, fashion trendsetter, and a wonderful person and had a very bright future ahead,” the post said.

State health officials say there is widespread flu activity across Ohio and hospitalizations from flu-related illness are much higher than this same time last year.

There have been 1,003 flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio so far this season compared to 555 reported during the same period last year, Hurst said.

Flu hospitalizations this year, however, are tracking below the five-year average, he said.

“Deaths do occur with the flu and this is this why we reinforce early in the season the importance of getting the flu vaccine,” Hurst said.

Health officials advise that in addition to getting the flu shot, people should wash hands frequently, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to avoid getting and spreading the virus.


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