4-year-old Iowa girl goes blind after nearly dying from flu

Condition could be permanent

DETROIT – A preliminary report has found the main strain of influenza B that’s circulating is not an exact match for the strain in the vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention looked at children infected with the flu in Louisiana, one of the first states to experience elevated flu activity this flu season.

Nearly all of the kids had a different subgroup of the B strain.

However, experts say the strains are close enough that the vaccine will offer some protection. Meanwhile, the flu continues to cause problems across the country including Michigan.

One Iowa girl is suffering from a rare and devastating complication. She was left blind after nearly dying from the flu. Now the girl’s mother is speaking out about the simple misunderstanding that left her unprotected from the virus.

The 4-year-old girl is recovering from a life-threatening-case of the flu. Flu symptoms left her blind, and doctors say the condition could be permanent.

Read: 4-year-old Iowa girl blinded by flu

Read more: What’s Going Around: Flu activity remains high around the United States

The day before Christmas, the happy, healthy little girl had to be life-flighted to Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa as her parents watched terrified.

“I didn’t think I was going to see her again at that point I really did not,” said Amanda Phillips, Jade DeLucia’s mother.

DeLucia had influenza B, the flu strain that has dominated the early flu season.

She was unresponsive with a ventilator breathing for her.

“Influenza B is activating her own immune system to start attacking her own organs, specifically the brain and causing the brain swelling," said Phillips. “It just hurts and it it rips your heart out because you just want her to wake up.”

Then, after nearly two weeks DeLucia woke up.

It felt like a miracle. Then they discovered DeLucia could not see. The flu caused inflammation in her brain. Doctors say it will be 6-months before they know if the vision loss is permanent.

Her parents say they’re stunned by what the flu can do to a healthy child. She is home from the hospital.

Her mother says both DeLucia and her sister received a flu shot last March.

She thought that shot was good for an entire year and didn’t realize she needed to get the girls vaccinated again in the fall for the new flu season.

The CDC says it is not too late to get a flu shot. Investigators will not know until later in the season how effective it is overall against the circulating viruses.

But even if you do still catch the flu, the vaccine reduces the risk of serious complications and death.

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