7-year-old fighting brain cancer dies after getting flu - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

7-year-old fighting brain cancer dies after getting flu

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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -

Grief counselors were on hand, Tuesday, as students at a Clover Elementary returned to class, after a 7 year-old-girl with brain cancer lost her fight while battling the flu.

According to state health officials, the flu has already claimed 30 lives in South Carolina this season.

Little Kayla Melendez was a seemingly healthy first grader.

Friends say she was bubbly, loved to play outdoors and was the ultimate girly girl.

"She loved playing with princesses and the Wii. She was just a sweet girl," said family friend Stephanie Haynes.

Last fall, Melendez was diagnosed with brain cancer, but her family says she caught the flu just last week.

Her body couldn't fight the virus and she passed away over the weekend.

"Hug your kids. Hold them tight because you never know when they're going to be gone. People are brought into your life for a reason," said Haynes.

Melendez was one of more than 1,000 South Carolinians hospitalized because of the flu this season, according to state health officials.

Flu is now widespread over most of the U.S. including North Carolina.

State Health officials say there have been 27 flu related deaths dating back to October.

The number is raising concern amongst health experts, considering flu season hasn't reached its peak.

"Typically the flu season peaks here is in February. So we're rapidly approaching that, but there was flu cases reported as early as December of this year," said Palmetto Family Pharmacy manager Mark Ellis.

Ellis says it hard to predict the severity of flu season from year to year, but says people should prepare for a spike in cases in the next couple of weeks

Health experts say the best way to handle the flu is to prevent it and not treat it, meaning it's never too late to get the flu shot.

"If someone has not gotten the flu shot, I would certainly encourage them to do so. It's a good preventative measure that bolsters against contracting the flu," said Ellis.

Although the shot is not 100% effective against the flu, Ellis says it's a great start to keep you safe against the virus.

Health experts recommend you seek medical attention at the first sign of flu-like symptoms, which include fatigue, nausea and body aches.

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