Father of 4-year-old Texas girl who died from flu offers warning to other parents

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Children's Hospital Los Angeles is reporting fewer flu cases than this time last year, but experts say that doesn't mean you should drop your guard.

The father of a young child from Texas is asking himself what he might have missed.

Ashanti Grinage, 4, from Garland, Texas, showed flu-like symptoms on a Sunday. She was diagnosed with the flu the following Tuesday and died two days later.

Her grieving father, Martel Grinage, is trying to come to terms with what happened to his daughter.

"I feel like I failed because I'm not even 30, and I'm going to bury my little girl," he said.

Doctors say Ashanti developed pneumonia - but it all happened so fast.

So far this flu season, CHLA has admitted more than 100 young patients with complications of the flu. While there are fewer cases than this time last year, infectious disease expert Dr. Vikram Anand said parents should not let their guard down.

"It's more aggressive than it has been in years past," Anand said. "It starts out with a high fever, muscle aches, total body aches and cough."

Signs a flu may be worsening include the child may have difficulty breathing or has trouble being woken up. Children with pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk, but completely healthy children can succumb to complications as well.

"All of a sudden, for reasons we can't understand, the body has an aggressive reaction," Anand said.

He said if your pediatrician sends your child home it's because they can only evaluate how the child appears at that moment, but if the situation changes, he suggests parents follow their gut instincts.

"If things change, it's always okay to go back after you've been seen by the doctor," he said.

After Ashanti's death, her dad's plea is for other parents to pay attention.

"I just want to save somebody else's kid because they don't want this feeling," Grinage said.

Flu symptoms include fever, fatigue and muscle aches. Doctors say seek medical attention if you see signs of respiratory distress. And it's still not too late to get a flu shot.

The flu season could last well into April.
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