A 12-year-old Florida boy spent the weekend of January 20th playing with his older brother, but just two days later, the seemingly healthy middle schooler died from the flu.
Dylan’s father, Sergio Winnik, told The Palm Beach Post that his son had a 102-degree fever the night before he died that dropped to 98 degrees after taking fever-reducing medication.
Sergio said his son seemed okay the following morning, on January 23, and ate waffles for breakfast. But he decided to stay home from school while his father attended his naturalization ceremony to become a U.S. citizen on the South Florida Fairgrounds.
Sergio said he tried calling his son an hour later, but he didn’t pick up. When he called a neighbor to check on him, she walked in and found him unresponsive.
“This is completely unreal,” Dylan’s 16-year-old brother, Sebastian Roa, told CBS Miami, adding that the weekend before, the brothers rode their bikes together and tossed around a football. “Healthy 12-year-old boy just gone. No family should feel the pain that we’re going through right now.”
In a frantic 11-minute 911 call, The Palm Beach Post reports that the emergency call began with a woman asking for a Spanish translator.
“She said there’s a little boy who lost consciousness and he appears to be dead,” a translator told the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher.
The caller said that his nose was bleeding, he wasn’t breathing and at 12:31 p.m., an official confirmed he had died.
The Palm Beach Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that while they were awaiting final confirmation, preliminary findings by the State Health Laboratory using real-time polymerase chain reaction testing confirmed Dylan died from influenza B. Dylan had not gotten a flu shot, according to the family.
Roa told CBS Miami that their mother is in unbearable pain.
“It’s something that she can’t grasp either,” he said. “Something that she grieves about it but at the same time we want to get awareness out there. We don’t want him to die in vain.”
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) currently lists the 2017 to 2018 flu season as “moderately severe,” and warns it could get worse. More than 30 children have succumbed to the virus across the nation so far, PEOPLE confirmed with the CDC.
The CDC reports that the flu vaccine lessens the chance that someone catches the virus by 10 to 60 percent and doesn’t guarantee that someone will not catch the flu. However, the annual vaccine is highly recommended by the CDC for everyone 6 months and older and the more people that get vaccinated can limit the disease’s spread throughout the community.
Getting the flu shot and staying home if you’re sick are two of the most important ways to reduce transmission. But the CDC says it’s also important to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wipe down surfaces that may have come into contact with contagion, as flu germs can live on them for up to 24 hours.