Doctors warn respiratory viruses on the rise after fourth grader dies from flu

WILSON, N.C. (WITN) – There have been 14 flu deaths in the state so far this year, and the latest is a young girl from the East.

The fourth grader’s death is prompting health officials to warn of the dangers of not only the flu but also COVID and RSV.

There were 80 to 90 positive COVID and RSV cases in children, with over 370 positive flu cases just last week recorded with the ECU Health system.

That includes 9-year-old Jasmyne Kite, a fourth grader at Wells Elementary School in Wilson, who lost her life to the flu.

A GoFundMe site to help with funeral expenses says she had viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle brought on by the flu. WITN was able to speak with her dad, who said the family is now looking to raise awareness about how serious the flu can be in children.

ECU health’s pediatrician-in-chief, Matthew Ledoux, says the flu can be particularly dangerous for kids. “Their systems are pretty young, and they haven’t been exposed to most of those things,” said Dr. Ledoux.

He says it’s not just the flu virus. “The other thing in infants with RSV is their airways are very different than ours, and it makes it much more difficult for them to breathe, cough, get the secretions up like you and I would normally do,” said Dr. Ledoux.

The principal at Wells Elementary School told WITN there will be additional counselors on campus but urges parents to also speak with their kids about Kite’s death.

While the flu and other illnesses can be serious and even deadly, there are some precautions during this time of the year that families can take.

“We did learn that social distancing, especially when you’re sick, works,” said Dr. Ledoux. “We know that mask can help for sure, and then washing your hands very well.”

Jasmyne was initially taken to the hospital last Wednesday and passed away on Monday.