A 5-year-old special-needs girl from Ada, Michigan, died unexpectedly after contracting pneumonia and respiratory syncytial virus, a relatively common illness.
Audrey Lou Jandernoa passed away after contracting RSV, which pediatric specialist Dr. Dan McGee said is common and relatively preventable. The child's family told WXMI that she was fun-loving and had a "contagious smile."
"There was something special about Audrey that brought about a smile and a warmth of the heart to anyone who came in contact with her," Dan Behm, superintendent of Forest Hill Schools, added.
McGee advised people to be aware and take precautionary steps to prevent the spread of illnesses like RSV.
"For now, the only way you can help prevent it is, like with every other illness, is through good hand-washing and keeping away from people who are ill," McGee said.
In a similar incident, a Hurt, Virginia, boy passed away from strep throat and the flu. Kevin Baynes, Jr., 7, died just hours after beginning to experience symptoms. The sickness began when the boy was in school, leading to him being sent home. His parents monitored him while he slept.
By the next morning, he was unable to walk or keep any food down. He was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with the flu and strep throat, and given medication to treat it. The following morning, around 8 a.m., his sister found him unresponsive.
"Watch your children closely," Kevin's mother, Samantha Baynes, told WTVR. "Don't hesitate to go to the emergency room. No matter what time it is day or night, just take them."
The flu has reportedly been particularly severe this season, and doctors have advised that people be on high alert and take measures to stay healthy.
"We're seeing more widespread activity than we've seen since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009," Dr. Michael Stevens, Associate Chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at VCU Medical Center, said.
"One of the circulating viruses, because there's multiple different viruses that can make up influenza, is a particular nasty version of the virus called H3N2. That can be particularly hard on the elderly and young kinds."
Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC, told WTVR that the best thing to do is to get vaccinated.
"It's still not too late to get vaccinated, as we're starting to see some increase in Influenza A H1N1 and Influenza B activity," she said.
"Influenza antiviral treatment is recommended as early as possible for people at high risk, which includes children younger than age 5 but especially less than age 2, adults age 65 and over, pregnant women, and people with underlying medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes -- in children, a big category includes those with neurologic or developmental disorders."