Six-year-old Allison Eaglespeaker, a kindergartner at Russell Elementary, lost her battle with influenza strain B and pneumonia on Saturday. Recorded as the first pediatric death for Montana, she is actually the sixth child to have died in this year’s flu season, according to the latest surveillance report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result of this, medical authorities are urging parents to make sure their children have received this year’s flu shot.
Allison Eaglespeaker was from Missoula County and lost her battle with the flu at Community Medical Hospital. Her aunt, Crystal Whiteshield, has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses that include a burial at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, according to NBC Montana.
An official statement was released regarding the death of 6-year-old Allison.
“Missoula City-County Health Department, in conjunction with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), has confirmed the state’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season involving a child from Missoula County,” the statement read.
Currently, there is no plan to release further details on Allison’s death, due to privacy concerns. It is also unknown whether or not Allison had received her flu shot this year.
The statement also noted that this is the first pediatric death in Montana since the 2017-18 flu season when a child under the age of 18 was confirmed as succumbing to influenza.
#BREAKING Missoula City-County Health Department, in conjunction with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, has confirmed the state’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season involving a child from Missoula County. RIP Allison Eaglespeaker. pic.twitter.com/2XzjtkHhsk— Kaitlin Miller (@KaitlinM_abcfox) December 3, 2018
While there are no other recorded cases on flu-related hospitalizations in Montana, presently, authorities are still urging people to get vaccinated against the potentially deadly disease. While the flu shot is only up to 67 percent effective against current strains of the flu, it is the best preventative option available.
While flu-related instances are still low for this season, authorities expect numbers to start rising in the coming weeks as the season continues to develop.
“In Montana, influenza activity increases in December and peaks in January and February,” the official statement from Montana authorities reads.
“To date, there have been 36 cases and six hospitalizations reported in Montana. Last season, over 10,000 cases, 979 hospitalizations, and 79 deaths were reported across Montana.”
As Fox News points out, other preventative measures include proper handwashing techniques and avoiding touching your face and nose, particularly when in contact or in close proximity to people who are ill. In addition, it is recommended that you cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing to help prevent the spread of potential infection.