Houston doctor cautions parents after 4-year-old Texas girl died from the flu

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Although it's a mild flu season, health experts caution parents to still pay attention.

Harris County Public Health said 1,400 people are visiting the ER every week because of the flu, but the overall numbers are down this season.

The state said more than 11,000 people died from flu complications over the span of a year starting in October 2017. Between this past October and December, the number was 1,865 deaths.

In Dallas County, a family is grieving after a 4-year-old died after contracting the flu and developing pneumonia.

"I feel like I failed because I'm not even 30, and I'm going to bury my little girl," *the girl's father* Martel Grinage said.

It's a devastating situation that Children's Memorial Hermann Dr.Matthew Harting has seen before.

"We know when a child gets run over and they're really badly injured, we know what that looks like, right? But the flu is a difficult one," Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital/UT Health pediatric surgeon, Harting said.

Harting deals with children who have developed flu complications and are fighting for their lives. He said it's rare, but children with pre-existing conditions or those who contract a strong flu strain may need serious medical attention.

"You start to have difficulty with breathing, and you get sicker and sicker, and then ultimately, your body has a hard time fighting that off, and then you have respiratory failure so your lungs can't do their job," Harting explained.

Harris County Public Health said no children have died from the flu this season. At Texas Children's, positive flu tests are less than half of what they were this time last year, going from 884 to 312.

Related: Four-year-old girl dies from the flu.
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Dallas County officials reported the first pediatric flu-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season.

Health experts say that doesn't mean parents can ignore signs. Flu season can last until May.

Until then, experts say parents should pay attention, which is what the father of four-year-old Ashanti Grinage preaches as well.

"I just want to save somebody else's kid because they don't want this feeling," Grinage said.

Doctors say deciding whether your child has just the common flu, or something worse, is hard. They say to look for continued issues, especially when it comes to breathing.

If you think it's getting worse, bring them to the hospital and get medical attention.

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