UPDATE: Unusual flu complication hospitalizes Reno girl


    Lacey Holland, Makayla's mom, holding her daughter after a plasma transfusion.

    The U.S. -- Washoe County included -- is still recovering from the worst flu season in decades.

    According to the CDC, 80,000 people died of flu last winter in U.S. It was also the first season to be classified as “high severity” across all age groups nationally. Last year’s U.S. flu season was one of the longest in years.

    More than 180 children nationwide died during last year’s season due to flu-related causes, per the CDC. Nearly 80 percent of these deaths happened in children who did not receive a flu vaccination.

    Here in Washoe County, 26 people died from flu-related causes, according to the Washoe County Health District.

    RELATED | Washoe Co. Health District says 2018-2019 flu season is less severe than the last

    One 5-year-old girl in Reno, Makayla Holland, is experiencing a devastating complication from the flu.

    The seasonal flu had been traveling throughout the Holland family, but Makayla -- who has autism -- had only been getting worse with her flu case as the days went on.

    Her family tells News 4-Fox 11 that -- when they took Makayla to the hospital -- doctors told them that she had Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, brought on by influenza.

    Lacey Holland, Makayla's mom, holding her daughter after a plasma transfusion.

    Makayla, who hasn’t been responsive since Saturday, Jan. 26, is currently being fed through a tube.

    While Makayla initially had a 50% chance of survival, doctors say she is making steady progress through physical therapy. After a few days of treatment, Makayla's family told News 4-Fox 11 that doctors expect her to pull through.

    Lacey comforting her daughter who has been unresponsive for a few days.

    "They can’t give me any concrete answers as to what or when or how this will work," said Lacey Holland, Makayla's mother. "What they do tell me is they are very confident that she will recover.”

    The Washoe County Health District said Tuesday that there is no evidence to suggest that Holland has a rare form of the flu.

    Makayla struggled to stay awake, her eyes opening only a few times.

    According to a statement from the health district, a rare strain of influenza is considered an 'extraordinary occurrence of illness', and acute care hospitals need to report such cases to the Washoe County Health District for additional lab testing to be ordered and performed.

    Health district officials told News 4-Fox 11 that -- as of 3 p.m. Tuesday -- their office has not yet received a report of this kind from an area hospital.

    The CDC says the best way to protect your family is to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations.

    If you would like to help the Holland family with medical expenses, you can visit this link.

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