Flu sends 4-year-old Jesup girl to ICU - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Flu sends 4-year-old Jesup girl to ICU

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An eastern Iowa girl is back home after being hospitalized from the flu. 

Four-year-old Kinzi LaMarsh, of Jesup, tested positive for influenza, but her parents say she never experienced any of the symptoms. She had also received a flu shot earlier this season. 

Kinzi's mother Nichole, says she was home all day with her daughter last Friday because of the snow day. Her daughter had complained about an upset stomach, but they figured she had just ate something that didn't sit right. After she woke up from a nap, Nichole noticed her daughter wasn't acting normal. 

Kinzi started experiencing her first seizure. 

"She was just spaced off at the ceiling," said LaMarsh. "She wouldn't turn her head. She kind of had some weird arm movements and her legs were kind of pulling. But I knew something was wrong and I called 911."

LaMarsh listened to her gut, calling 911. Kinzi was rushed to Covenant Medical Center and later airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. 

Kinzi would end up experiencing 15 seizures that day. 

"They didn't really know what was going on," said LaMarsh. "They had run a lot of lab testing, not sure what it was."

Kinzi had to be sedated and eventually put on a ventilator. She was in the Intensive Care Unit from Friday night till Sunday afternoon. 

"No symptoms," said Kinzi. "No runny nose. No cough."

Despite the lack of fly symptoms, LaMarsh says the same motherly instinct questioned whether it could be the flu. 

 "You know with all the flu going around, were they concerned that it was that?" said LaMarsh. "And they said no since she didn't have any other symptoms. They weren't worried it was the flu, they thought maybe it was a fever. Maybe her fever went up really quick and went down really quick and we didn't realize. And I knew, I checked her for the fever, but she didn't have one."

But LaMarsh didn't budge, she asked doctors to test her daughter for the flu.

"So that's what they kept saying and I finally insisted we know that this flu is not just the cough and cold symptoms anymore this year," said LaMarsh. "That there's just kids with just hives and no fever. So I really pushed them to test her for the flu."

Kinzi tested positive for influenza. For Nichole, and her husband, Justin, the biggest shock was that their daughter wasn't experiencing any of the symptoms usually seen with the flu. 

"It wasn't just about cold or vomiting that's bringing this flu on," said LaMarsh. "We can be perfectly normal and then it threw her into some seizures. I just want people to understand, that if you think something is going on, don't be afraid to ask your doctor to test them and if they say they don't have symptoms say I don't care I want them to be tested for their safety. I want them to ask, so they can be treated so we can stop spreading it."

Medical experts say a child can have the flu virus and spread it a day or two before experiencing symptoms.

Doctors say anyone who comes in contact with a family member with influenza should be taking preventive care measures. Kinzi's older brother is on TamiFlu.

Kinzi came back home Monday afternoon, but it still recovering. At a doctor's visit Tuesday, she was diagnosed with  walking pneumonia and bronchitis. 

Medical experts say a child can have the flu virus and spread it a day or two before experiencing symptoms. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • Fever up to 103 degrees
  • Headache/body aches
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat

According to a UnityPoint physician, the first thing to do whenever a child is experiencing symptoms is to call the pediatrician or primary care provider. The care team will help determine if further medical attention is necessary. If the primary care provider isn’t available, UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day at four locations in Waterloo and Cedar Falls.

"Parents are always encouraged to be an advocate for their child," said Waterloo UnityPoint Health Marketing Communications Manager Carson Tigges. "If there is anything about their child’s health that is causing concern, we encourage them to ask the provider."

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