Georgia boy who had flu dies from apparent brain infection

Eli Snook (Credit: Photo provided to CBS courtesy of Leota Snook)
Eli Snook (Credit: Photo provided to CBS courtesy of Leota Snook)

(CBS News) - Health officials in Georgia are looking into whether the flu killed a 5-year-old boy. Eli Snook's parents, Leota and Aaron, said he came down with a high fever nearly two weeks ago, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. They took Eli to urgent care near their home in Marietta where they said he was diagnosed with the flu and prescribed antibiotics and the antiviral medication, Tamiflu.

"After he got well from the flu, a few days later, he got sick again," Leota said.

Eli tested negative for the flu this time, but doctors noticed a rash across his body and sent him to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"I see his face and he's like he's biting his jaw and his arm goes in and he starts having seizures," Aaron said.

He was placed in a medically induced coma while doctors performed a CAT scan and a spinal tap. But a virus had spread to his brain.

"His brain swelled past the point of no return and they told us that he was brain dead," Aaron said.

Nurses surrounded Eli at his bedside while his parents prayed for a miracle.

"Unfortunately the Lord took him home, so -- and it was Saturday at 10 o'clock," Leota said, choking up.

Eli's parents said he did not have a flu shot. They said their son did not get one because he was recovering from a previous ailment and doctors advised against it until he was better.

"The best line of defense to prevent influenza is to get a vaccine," said transition Dr. Daniel Salinas, chief medical officer at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"If your kids are sick, don't take any chances," Aaron said. "You can't really know these things. It just happens."

Leota and Aaron buried their son on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the flu virus killed 15-year-old Georgia high school student, Kira Molina.

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