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Health Department: 5-Year-Old Brooklyn Girl Died Of The Flu

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city's health department confirmed Monday that a 5-year-old girl from Brooklyn died of the flu over the weekend. She is the fourth child to die from the virus in the city this season.

Sources told CBS2 that on Friday the little girl had flu-like symptoms including a high fever. Medicine helped for a bit but the next day her temperature came back. Her mother wanted to give her a cold bath but instead had to call neighbors and 911 for help.

Her mother found her unresponsive Saturday evening in their Brownsville home, sources said. Neighbor Nelson Martis stepped in to try and bring the 5-year-old back to consciousness.

"She was sitting on the floor holding her daughter, cradling her daughter just trying to say 'wake up, don't leave me please'," he told CBS2's Reena Roy. "I tried, but I think the daughter was already gone."

The girl was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

The Department of Health has not confirmed if the child was vaccinated.

The girl's death came just one day after the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported a third New York City child died from influenza so far this season. More than 60 children have died of the flu across the country so far this season, compared to 20 this time last year.

This season's severity now rivals the 2009 swine flu pandemic, with the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control showing one out of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for flu-like illnesses.

"Immune responses are really profound and big that can actually make you be hospitalized and we've seen it. Healthy people in their teens, 20s and 30s hospitalized and then die in a day or two," CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said.

H3N2 is the prevalent strain this season. It mutates easily and therefore this year's vaccine has not offered the best protection.

But officials say people should still get vaccinated.

Agus explains that even with a less effective vaccine "the severity of the flu you get won't be as great."

The CDC said the rate of flu-related hospitalizations is approaching the highest on record.

"As of this week we have more hospitalizations than we have seen in any recent season including severe 2014-2015 season," said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.

New Yorker Theodore Rodriguez was suffering from the flu Monday, but made sure he and his family got the vaccine this year.

"As soon as they get fever we run in the car," he said. "We don't wait for the ambulance. We get to the hospital quick."

Officials remind everyone the flu season runs through May, so there's still plenty of time to get vaccinated.

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