DENVER, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- As many as three of four Colorado children who died of flu complications may not have been vaccinated, state health officials said Thursday.
The deaths of three toddlers and one baby in the past five weeks make this flu season the worst for children in the past five years, the health officials said. During the each of the past four flu seasons, from October to May, only one or two children died in Colorado, said Dr. Ken Gershman, chief of the communicable-disease program at the state health department.
"It is very tragic," The Denver Post quoted Gershman as saying. "It's tear-jerking to read these stories. They are horrendous."
The children were healthy one day, then dead a few days later, he said. The department would not say what caused the deaths but Gershman said kids hit by flu sometimes develop bacterial pneumonia or a swelling of the upper airways, which can cause respiratory failure.
One child had not been vaccinated against the flu, while two others might not have been, health officials said. Officials said they did not know the vaccination status of the fourth child, who died Wednesday.
Two of the children died in the Denver area and two died on the Western Slope, west of the Continental Divide. At least two had other serious medical conditions before getting the flu, officials said.