First pediatric death in Illinois following the flu


CHICAGO, Ill. (CNN) – February ends perhaps, but the flu season is not.

A child died of the disease in Chicago while a suburban school district is experiencing a serious epidemic.

15% of South Middle School students in Arlington Heights stayed home on Wednesday and officials sent an extra 23 people home during the day.

Nearly 200 children missed the class.

Cleaning crews take extra precautions to disinfect schools in the area.

Officials say the flu is so contagious that the best thing to do is keep all the sick children at home.

"884 children with 190 children on the outside," said Susan Gavin, an office clerk at the school. "The dining room seems empty, the classrooms are small, we miss them."

"I know a friend of my daughter, her temperature had become so high that she was going to take her to the ER," said mother Ingrid Letzig.

"We are just beginning to see it," said emergency physician Brian Doane. "January was actually a relatively light month.February, in particular, was one of the worst months of February more recently."

WLS, a Chicago-based CNN subsidiary, says the dead child marks the first pediatric death of the flu in Illinois this season.

Two adults died of the disease.

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