- Associated Press - Saturday, January 3, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some Iowa hospitals have tightened visitation rules in the wake of a widespread flu outbreak that has claimed the lives of three children in recent months, including that of a 3-year-old Elk Horn girl in the last week.

Ayzlee McCarthy died on Monday from complications from the flu, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1wMUddJ ). Her mother said that only three days earlier on Dec. 26, Ayzlee was active, spending much of the day playing with her Christmas gifts and trying on her new “Frozen” dress-up clothes.

“She was healthy. She had a flu shot,” said Amber McCarthy, Ayzlee’s mother. “The whole thing is so unreal.”

When Ayzlee woke up on Dec. 27, she complained that her legs ached too badly for her to walk. Except for a fever, she showed no other signs of having the flu, said her mother, a respiratory therapist. McCarthy said she took the girl to a clinic, where she “tested positive for both A and B” types of influenza.

Ayzlee was taken home, where she initially seemed to improve. But by late Dec. 28, she was taken to an Atlantic hospital, then to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, where her breathing became labored.

McCarthy said she remembered Ayzlee saying to her, “Mommy, I so tired. I done.”

The girl’s heart stopped soon after, McCarthy said.

“This shouldn’t be happening in 2015,” the mother said.

Ann Garvey, deputy state epidemiologist, said preliminary reports show that two other Iowa children, ages 17 or younger, have died from influenza since October, when the flu season began. The state does not receive reports of adult deaths caused by the flu, Garvey said.

But Iowa Department of Public Health reports show that for the week ending Dec. 27, 161 Iowa patients were hospitalized with the flu at a set of hospitals the department monitors. That was up from 130 the previous week. More than half were 65 or older.

The spike in flu cases has prompted Des Moines medical centers to ban any would-be visitors who show any flu symptoms. Those who visit patients who have the flu must now wear surgical masks over their noses and mouths.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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