A lab test confirms that an 8-year-old girl is the latest child to die from the flu in New Jersey, the state’s Department of Public Health said Wednesday.
Officials didn't name Daniela Genaro as the girl, but her family told NBC 4 earlier this week that she was the young Elizabeth resident whose death was being investigated.
Genaro is the third New Jersey child to die from the virus this flu season; a 4-year-old girl from Central Jersey died in December and the death of a 6-year-old girl from Hudson County was reported last week.
“We continue to take every reported case of a pediatric flu-associated death very seriously,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a statement.
Officials continued to encourage adults and children to get flu shots, saying flu season can last until May and that getting vaccinations helps stop the spread of the virus to more vulnerable people, like children.
Genaro’s death was announced earlier this week in a letter to parents written by Elizabeth Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer.
"You should feel comfortable in sending your child to school tomorrow," she wrote in the letter to parents. "We continue to do everything possible to make the schools safe, healthy learning environments."
The superintendent says all schools have been sanitized with disinfectant each day since the fall, and that the Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School and school buses are being additionally sanitized.
Genaro was described by her uncle as very intelligent and happy.
"Everyone's received the news like a bucket of ice water," he said. "We still don't know everything, her parents are still in the hospital trying to figure out what happened."
The confirmation of Genaro’s death as flu-related comes as health officials in Connecticut confirm the death of a 6-year-old girl named Emma Splan was flu-related.
Splan was a student at Columbus Magnet School, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said earlier this week. She would be the third child to die from the flu in Connecticut this flu season.
The CDC said earlier this week that more than 80 children across the U.S. have died from the flu this flu season.
Four children have died in New York City from the flu this season, most recently a 5-year-old girl whose death was announced a little more than a week ago.
The Departments of Health and Education continue to recommend that people take the necessary precautions during this flu season: wash or disinfect your hands frequently, cover any coughs and sneezes, stay home and call your health care provider if you are sick (especially with a fever) and get a flu shot.