Youth hockey player dies after flu takes hold

Nico Mallozzi, of New Canaan, Connecticut, a healthy, happy, and go-getter youth hockey player, died Sunday, January 14, at a hospital in the New York Catskills, following a momentary hospitalization at Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, from complications of the flu, which got progressively worse as he and his family were returning from a tournament in Buffalo, the Connecticut Post reports. He was 10.


As of our publication date, a GoFundMe page for Nico had passed its $100k goal by more than $74,000.

Dr David Reed, New Canaan’s director of health, told the Stamford Advocate that Nico had been diagnosed with Influenza B during what is shaping into a terrible season for the flu in the Northern Hemisphere, following a flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, in places like Australia, that was the worst since 2009.

“This has been one of the worst flu seasons and I think it will continue until March,” the paper quoted him as saying. “If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated now. The flu season varies every year, but a vaccine can mitigate the symptoms.”

(It was not reported whether Nico had received a flu shot this season, but the Reuters news service reported yesterday that of the 30 US children who have died from the flu so far this season, some 85 percent had not been vaccinated, citing CDC’s director, Dr Brenda Fitzgerald. She urged Americans to get flu shots amid one of the most severe flu seasons in years.)

Nico was a member of the RoughRiders youth hockey team and had gone to Buffalo to be with his team members. He felt sick and couldn’t play, however, and his illness made a turn for the worse as he headed home. The flu virus, which affects the respiratory system, had caused pneumonia, doctors said, which then developed into sepsis and caused his death.

Influenza B is a different type than the most common type of the virus, Influenza A, but it can be just as serious. It was once thought that the B type was less deadly, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report in 2014 that debunked that myth.

Schools are said to be taking extra precautions over this year’s flu season. New Canaan Superintendent of Schools Bryan D Luizzi was quoted in the Advocate:

We have also taken the precaution of having our custodians perform extra “cleanings” at all buildings. These efforts will continue throughout the influenza season. However, please be aware that, according to the CDC, “Studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for only two to eight hours after being deposited on a surface. Therefore, special sanitizing processes beyond routine cleaning, including closing schools to clean every surface in the building, are not necessary or recommended to slow the spread of flu, even during a flu outbreak.” Nonetheless, we will continue our extra cleanings, especially during weekends and school breaks. …

The virus causes the most serious health effects in young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with other respiratory problems.

Most of the people who die from complications of the flu are in one of those categories, but occasionally, school-age children die. Since the 2004-2005 season, when the CDC first started tracking pediatric deaths from the flu, the total number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths had previously ranged from 35 to 171 per season. This excludes the 2009 pandemic, when 348 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during April 2009 through October 2, 2010.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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