Flu kills 5-year-old Tacoma girl

A 5-year-old Tacoma girl who was sent home from school with a fever is one of 10 Pierce County residents who have died from the flu this season.

Scarlet Taylor died Dec. 19, two days after she went home early from Fawcett Elementary School.

The girl’s mother, Rebecca Taylor, told KOMO TV that she treated her daughter for two days for cold symptoms before taking her to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

Scarlet died four hours later.

“I’ve tried to find the positive in all of this, which is really hard, but what I’ve taken from it is I hope other moms can take caution,” Taylor said.

Scarlet did not have a flu shot. Health officials said she died of the H3N2 strain, the mutation for which the current vaccine is least effective.

H3N2 is the most prevalent strain this season but not the only one that has caused fatalities, said Edie Jeffers, spokeswoman for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

So far this season there have been 22 influenza-related deaths in Washington.

“We would expect to see more lab-confirmed flu deaths,” state Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer said Monday.

A typical flu season peaks in January or February, he said, with an average of two to four dozen deaths each season. The last season was more severe, with 79 people dying from the flu in Washington.

Scarlet is the first child in the state this season to die from influenza.

Health officials recommended people get vaccinated and frequently wash their hands.