REDFIELD, Iowa -- The Polk County Medical Examiner's Office says since early November, they've listed influenza as the cause of death on seven death certificates. Two of those were children. However, the Iowa Department of Public Health says it is working to confirm three primary reports of flu deaths of people under the age of 18.
Fourteen-year–old Amber Gray loved reading and drawing according to her uncle Adam Broman.
“She was completely healthy, nothing wrong with her. Yeah just a healthy typical 14-year-old girl which makes what happens to her that much more shocking.”
ALthough Gray had gotten the flu shot, she complained of flu-like symptoms on December 21st. The following day things quickly got worse.
“My sister and brother-in-law took her to the urgent care Monday night thinking she had strep but she did not have strep,” says Broman. “The next morning she had a temperature of 105 and was immediately taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital and immediately put on ventilator.”
Five days later Amber died from pneumonia and sepsis; complications from influenza A. An almost identical situation happened to three-year-old Ayzlee McCarthy from Elk Horn. Her obituary says she was transferred from a hospital in Atlantic to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines and died a short time later.
The Iowa Department of Public Health says the influenza A is by far the most severe and potentially deadly strain. The department predicts 1,000 Iowans will die this year from the virus and the Gray family never thought Amber would be one of them.
“Do not ignore signs like this because it`s amazing how quick something like this can happen. Just hug your sons and daughters when you can because it`s surprising how quickly something like this can happen.”
Gray’s funeral is on Saturday. The family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for the medical and funeral expenses. Click here if you would like to donate.