SAVANNAH, Ga. -- As the wait in Georgia continues for additional supplies of flu vaccines, state health officials Thursday confirmed that the death of a 5-year-old metro Atlanta girl was the result of the flu.
Antonia Theresa Watkins of Sandy Springs was the state's first influenza-related fatality this season. The girl, who was buried Thursday, died of pneumonia early Monday morning.
Meanwhile, three other recent unexplained deaths of children across the state also are being looked at as possibly flu-related, said Richard Quartarone, spokesman for the Georgia Division of Public Health. Their ages ranged from infant to adolescent.
One of the fatalities was a 13-year-old girl from Baxley, Ga., who died Sunday at an undisclosed Savannah hospital from encephalitis - swelling of the brain, said Roger Naylor, spokesman for the Southeast Health Unit in Waycross.
About three dozen other pediatric flu-related fatalities across the country are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Officials at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta have reported a case of a child who developed a drug-resistant bacterial infection after acquiring the flu, likely the state's first case this year of such a flu-related infection, The Associated Press reported. Several children around the country have come down with this kind of infection, and three have died.
This season's flu activity has increased in Georgia, prompting health officials Tuesday to upgrade the state's outbreak level to widespread, the highest outbreak level in the nation, The AP reported. Georgia joined at least 26 other states that have widespread flu activity.
Health districts statewide are waiting to receive some of the flu vaccines being distributed throughout the state. Most, including the Chatham and Effingham County Health Department, ran out of vaccines last week.
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