Western New York's first pediatric flu death in years was linked to Niagara County.
According to the Niagara County Health Department, the death of a North Tonawanda child may have been caused by the flu and a serious bacterial infection.
The department says the child lived in Niagara County, but was diagnosed and attended school in Erie County. Officials say the child was previously healthy and had no other medical conditions.
Erie County health officials say the child was a six-year-old girl. She died at Women and Children's Hospital.
The Erie County Health Commissioner said a six-year-old girl died Monday night at Children's Hospital.
"This is a very sad occurrence and I think it just reinforces that we have to be very vigilant about taking influenza seriously," Dr. Gale Burstein said. "This is the first pediatric death that we've had from influenza in Erie County this season."
She said usually it's babies and the elderly who die from flu complications. The area hasn't dealt with the loss of a child in several years.
"Children over two are usually not the people that we expect to become very sick with influenza and die," she said.
But the two most common strains of influenza in the community right now are new strains. Burstein said they can be dangerous.
"These flu strains this year seem to be causing more serious disease," she said. "By January, we've had more hospitalizations in New York State than we did in all 2009 when we had H1N1."
That's why she continues to plead to Western New Yorkers to get their flu shots.
"We need to do everything we can to keep our children healthy and safe," she said.
A spokesperson for Women's and Children's told YNN on Tuesday night that the family of the child who passed away is asking to remain anonymous.
Burstein said there are still plenty of flu shots to go around. February and March are typically the peak months for flu season in Western New York.