Thousands of people contract the flu ever year, but this year’s flu season has been especially serious. And now, an otherwise healthy Florida 12-year-old is among those who have died of the disease since October.
Dylan Winnik, a seventh grader in West Palm Beach, showed cold-like symptoms for two days before his death on January 23rd. On the night of January 22nd, Winnik developed a high fever, and his family gave him medicine. The next day, he complained of his bones hurting and stayed home from school. By the time his father came home from work, Winnik had passed away.
Winnik had not received his flu shot, but the 12-year-old was healthy, with no previous medical conditions.
Health officials have not confirmed that it was the flu that killed Winnik, as an autopsy is needed to verify that the virus was the culprit. Winnik’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the funeral expenses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 children had lost their lives to the flu in the 2017-2018 season as of January 13th. And healthy adults have been among the victims, too. A 20-year-old woman died from the flu in December.
The people most at risk for severe complications from the flu are elderly people and children younger than five. But even healthy teens and adults should be careful this season. While the flu vaccine has only been about 30 percent effective at preventing the most common flu strain this season, doctors still recommend the shot because it can offer protection from other varieties of the virus. The CDC advises that people usually stay home with the flu, but if you are experiencing severe symptoms, you should go to the emergency room and ask for antiviral drugs.
Influenza may seem like a minor illness, but it’s important to take it seriously. Winnik’s death is devastating for all who knew him, and our hearts go out to his friends and family.