Possible third child flu-related death in New Jersey

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ELIZABETH, N.J. —  A child in Elizabeth has died after being diagnosed with the flu, but health officials are still working to confirm that the virus was the child's primary cause of death.

Elizabeth Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer posted a letter to parents informing them of the tragedy: “We are all saddened by the passing of one of our Nicholas LaCorte - Peterstown School No. 3 students and pray for the family."

The superintendent said that they are taking extra precautions and parents should feel comfortable sending their children to school:

“All schools have been sanitized each day since the Fall with a Neutral Disinfectant DS-1 which is effective in removing all pathogens. In addition, all buses are being sanitized as well. We took additional steps in sanitizing Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 today.”

The death toll among children nationwide this flu season is now up to 84, according to the most recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control.

A first-grader from Connecticut died from the flu over the weekend. Emma Splan, 6, received the flu vaccine in September. Emma’s dance teacher says she’s been in her class since she was 18 months old and she just lit up the room.

“Everything about her sparkled,” said Michelle Sperry, Founder and Director of the Connecticut Theater Dance School​. “Her eyes sparkled her eyelashes sparkled. She left a dress with the sparkle. And we had dress up time she always pick the most sparkly crown, the most sparkly wand and the most sparkly costume.”

Emma's mother told our sister station in Connecticut her daughter developed a fever and runny nose last Tuesday. By Saturday she was vomiting and her heart stopped.

Also this weekend, a funeral was held for a North Bergen kindergartner, Neveah Hernandez, 6, who died from the flu even though she had been vaccinated.

The first was a 10-year-old New Canaan boy.

According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control,  last week saw 22 pediatric flu deaths nationwide.  Since October, at least 84 children nationwide have died from the flu. In three out of four deaths, the children had not received the vaccination.

"Sometimes it’s the virus infection itself that can become so severe in a person that it can result in death. The flu viruses weakens your immune system and you can get a bacterial infection on top of it,” said Dr. Alicia Fry, CDC Influenza Prevention and Control Team.

Grief counselors will be available in Elizabeth schools tomorrow when classes resume. Schools were closed Monday for Presidents Day.

The district is reminding parents to get their children vaccinated. They also want parents to keep kids home until they are symptom-free for 48 hours.

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