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Health officials confirm Missoula girl was first flu-related death this season

Posted at 4:36 AM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 06:39:18-05
Allison Eaglespeaker was a kindergartner at Russell Elementary School in Missoula.
Allison Eaglespeaker was a kindergartner at Russell Elementary School in Missoula.

MISSOULA – The death of a 6-year-old Missoula girl has been confirmed as the state’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season.

The Missoula City-County Health Department, along with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, confirmed 6-year-old Allison Eaglespeaker passed away on Saturday, Dec. 1 due to the flu.

The young girl was admitted to the hospital on Friday night, according to her mother Crystal White Shield.

Crystal said in a Facebook post that her daughter was quickly moved to the ICU due to a combination of the flu, pneumonia, and asthma.

Allison was a kindergartner at Russell Elementary School.

Teachers and staff offered support for students on Monday who have questions about Allison and simply about the loss of a life.

Missoula County Public Schools spokesperson Hatton Littman said support is different for young kids compared to some of the older high school students.

School officials also encourage parents to talk about grief and loss if students have questions.

RELATED: Missoula family mourns death of young daughter

Nationwide, the CDC reports there have been five flu-related pediatric deaths so far this season.

In Montana, the last flu-related pediatric death occurred during the 2017-2018 influenza season when one child under the age of 18 died.

Health officials said influenza activity is currently at low levels in Montana. However, this is expected to change in the coming weeks.

This season, there have been 36 cases and six hospitalizations reported in Montana. This includes twelve cases and one influenza-related hospitalization in Missoula County.

Last season, more than 10,000 cases, 979 hospitalizations and 79 deaths were reported across Montana, including seven deaths in Missoula County.

In Montana, influenza activity increases in December and peaks in January and February.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help Allison’s family with funeral costs.

By Kent Luetzen – MTN News