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8-year-old girl dies after flu diagnosis, public health warns parents to be vigilant

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 13:11:33-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — "I love you. I kissed her, 'mommy loves you," said Tresheena Redd. "You’re my baby, my heart, my angel, my everything."

Aasiyha Jackson, also known as Siyha by her parents, was only 8 years old when she died last week. February 14 was Jackson’s last day of school at Norris Elementary and she came home that day complaining of a headache.

"She was playing out in the backyard and she came back in and she had told me 'mommy my head hurts' and I said okay baby," said Redd. "I gave her some pain medicine, which was children's Tylenol, and I told her to go lie down and when you wake up from your nap your headache will be gone."

Redd said her daughter had a fever from Friday Feb. 14 until that Sunday Feb. 16.

"That Saturday my daughter was out playing with her dad," said Redd. "She was playing with her cousins and she was just like her normal self. So, I treated her as if it was just a regular fever thing or regular common cold."

Michelle Corson with the Kern County Public Health Services Department said anytime a parent sees warning signs the best thing you can do is seek professional medical attention.

"Sometimes people are confused," said Corson. "Does my child have the cold? Do I have the flu? And what would be the differences?"

Corson said anytime you are concerned for your child and they are indicating that they are having difficulty breathing, or their fever is high or they are showing signs of dehydration, these are signs to pay attention to. She said it's better to err on the side of caution and take your child to the doctor if you as a parent are concerned with the symptoms.

Redd said over the weekend her daughter was vomiting and had a fever. On Monday, she said her daughters fever went away but came back that night. She decided to take her to Adventist Health Bakersfield on Tuesday morning.

When Redd arrived at Adventist Health, she told the doctor her daughter was complaining of throat pain, chest pain, and vomited twice on Saturday. Redd said the physician examining her daughter performed a nasal swab.

"That’s when he came back and told us that, 'hey your daughter tests positive for influenza B," said Redd. "And I was asking the physician, 'can we get some type of antibiotic for my daughter?' and he was like, 'no I’m not going to treat this as like an antiviral infection because antibiotics wouldn’t work."

Michelle Corson from public health said that this flu season has been unique because two strains have been circulating: Strain A and Strain B.

"The CDC has come out this year and said that so far influenza B has impacted the younger children in particular," said Corson. "It’s a strain that we haven't seen circulate in many years. So what that says is a lot of us older adults have perhaps developed an immunity because we have been exposed to this virus in the past but these younger children have not."

Aasiyha’s mom told 23ABC that her daughter did not have the flu shot.

"The reason why I don’t get my child the flu shot was because I worked in the medical field before," said Redd. "I had my own personal experience where I actually got sick after I took the flu shot."

Corson said flu season can be unpredictable and the flu itself can be very dangerous. The most important measures you can take, according to Corson, is getting your flu shot and taking everyday precautions to protect yourself. This includes practicing social distancing, good hand hygiene, and avoiding others that are sick.

Redd told 23ABC that Adventist Health told her Aasiyha would be fine and possible vomiting was to be expected.

According to Redd, her insurance wanted the family to get a generic medication, so they denied covering the Tamiflu. "CVS pharmacy let Kern Family know like, 'hey this is the last medication that we have," Redd said.

According to medical records shown to 23ABC by the family, the doctor noted that Tamiflu may not help Aasiyha.

"He said it’s to help treat the symptoms, that’s all. They said it’s not a cure or anything and he was like, 'I wouldn’t even recommend it but I have to give it because she has been diagnosed with influenza B," said Redd.

Redd said on Wednesday her insurance approved the Tamiflu and she picked up the filled prescription.

"She couldn’t keep anything down and it’s now Wednesday and you know, like I said, she couldn’t keep anything down and I'm telling her dad, 'we gotta try to get this medicine in her system somehow," said Redd.

According to her mother, Aasiyha slept in her bedroom so she could keep an eye on her.

"Next thing I know I hear dad wake up, 'Aasiyha needs you,' and I immediately got up out my sleep and when I went in the bathroom my daughter she was laying on the ground and she was still conscious." Redd said. "I'm like, 'baby get up, you know you can’t be on the ground,"

Redd continued to recount what took place that evening.

"I’m like Aasiyha are you okay? And I’m trying to get her to talk to me so I can see what’s wrong with her. And I just see her eyes just roll and she was like gasping for air and I just seen her eyes roll to the back of her head and I turned and I said, 'we gotta call 911. Call 911 right now."

Redd said 911 dispatch told her to begin performing chest compressions on her daughter and she did so until help arrived.

According to Redd, Hall ambulance transported her daughter to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

"I was inside the room I’m yelling and crying and telling my baby be strong you know mommy is here I'm not going to leave your side," Redd said.

Aasiyha was pronounced dead in the early hours of Thursday, Feb. 20.

"She kept me going," Redd said. "She's the one that kept me going."

Corson told 23ABC that parents should be vigilant this flu season if they begin to see warning signs because children be susceptible to developing things like pneumonia and other complications and prevention is key.

"What we do know is flu season is still heightened right now throughout California. The California Department of Public Health has indicated that it is still wide spread. So we know the season is not anywhere over right now it could go on until may. So it is not too late to get your flu shot we prefer you get your flu shot at the beginning of the season but it is not too late to get your flu shot," Corson said.

Corson said teaching children good hygiene, such as washing your hands and covering your coughs and sneezes, is also good practice. She said face masks are not recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The only time you would benefit from masking, according to the Center for Disease Control, is if you yourself are sick and you are trying to minimize your spread, or you're carrying for or in-contact with," said Corson. "For example, a health care worker with those that are sick that would be an appropriate measure for you. But for the general public that is not something that’s recommended."

But most importantly, Corson said its not too late to get your flu shot.

"Here at Public Health we are offering the $9 flu shots in our Public Health Clinic, as well on our mobile health vehicle that is traveling around the community. And I know all local health care providers are still providing the flu shot, so it's still available if you want to get it. We encourage you to do so."

As of Thursday there have been 11 flu-related deaths reported in Kern County for this year's flu season.