MARIETTA, Ga. -- A Cobb County mother is mourning the loss of her youngest son. Nicholas Bratsis died from influenza just two days after he started feeling sick.
Toula Argentis-Brotsis said her son was a perfectly healthy elementary schooler. She'd been following the news of this year's bad flu season, and she knew the very young and very old were at the highest risk for getting the disease. But she thought he would be okay.
"My son never had any health issues, so we never once thought he wouldn't be able to get past the flu," Argentis-Brotsis said.
So far out of the tens of millions who have had the flu this year, 105 children have died. CDC experts say 90% of those deaths were children who weren't vaccinated, or had weakened immune systems. But they say even seemingly healthy children are at risk of going to the hospital or even death if they're not vaccinated.
Not only did this year's flu season start early, it seems to be lasting longer. There could be cases going into the early summer months.
"We typically see heavy flu activity end in March or April," said flu expert Dr. Michael Jhung. "But I wouldn't be surprised to see more cases throughout the end of this flu season, and unfortunately we may see more deaths too related to flu."
That means Argentis-Brotsis won't be the last to experience the pain of losing a child. She's now trying to look back at the happy parts of Nicholas' life, when he was spinning on the floor like a break dancer trying to make her laugh. She firmly believes he'd want her to keep laughing.
"And I want him to be happy, I don't want him looking down on me and saying, 'Why is my mom looking sad if I'm so happy,' and that's what's holding me together right now," Argentis-Brotsis said.
"He's not suffering anymore, and I really believe he's in a much better place, and that gives me a lot of comfort."