ST. LOUIS — Layla Lynn Thomas, a little girl who was fighting for her life after complications with the flu, has passed away.

Layla Lynn had always been a healthy little girl. Then, like many little kids, she got sick.

“It was a low-grade fever that kind of went up and down,” said Jessica Kile, Layla’s aunt. “It was nothing that we haven't seen before.”

Kile said Layla’s mom Victoria Aubuschon took her to the pediatrician. She was sent home. Hours later, Layla’s temperature spiked to 107 degrees. Her mom called an ambulance. She went to a hospital in Belleville and then transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Doctors diagnosed 3-year-old Layla with necrotizing encephalitis. Her brain was inflamed. It is a very rare condition and can be a complication from the flu, which Layla tested positive for in the hospital.

“I don't think we know exactly how that happens, whether it's a direct result of the virus or an immune response to the virus that causes encephalitis after influenza. we know it can occur, but rarely,” said Dr. Rachel Orscheln, an infectious disease physician at St. Louis Children’s. 

Dr. Orscheln wasn't treating Layla but said complications from the flu tend to impact people with immature or weak immune systems. The flu shot can be a defense.

“The flu shot isn't perfect, but it reduces the risk you will have complications, be hospitalized or die from influenza,” Dr. Orscheln said.

Layla did get her flu shot, so her family is struggling to understand how she got so sick so quickly.

“We want to make parents aware this is a possible complication,” Kile said.

The family has set up this GoFundMe page to help with expenses. They are also hosting a fundraising event at Catholic War Veterans Post 370 on Saturday. For more information, click here.

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