THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) – A freshman at a Thousand Oaks high school has died after contracting the flu.
Gabriella Chabot, a student at La Reina High & Middle School, passed away from the flu, the school confirmed to parents in an email sent out Thursday night.
La Reina is a private Catholic all-girls school.
“Today I experienced the day that no parent should,” Gabriella’s father, Michael, posted on Facebook Thursday. “I lost my daughter… my angel Gabriella Chabot. We are heartbroken. She would have been 15 on 2/16/18. I love you peanut! Papi will never forget you. You will always be my angel.”
A school spokesperson would not confirm to CBS2 whether the flu had spread to other students, or potentially how many.
“The La Reina community shares in deep sorrow with the Chabot family upon the passing of their daughter, Gabriella,” a statement from La Reina read, in part. “We stand ready to support them through this time in every way we can.”
A vigil was scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.
The flu epidemic has hit California hard this season. It is primarily due to the spike in the Influenza A strain (H3N2), which can cause a more severe illness and leads to more hospitalizations, especially in children and older adults.
Between Oct. 1, 2017 – when the flu season began — and Jan. 13, the California Department of Public Health reported 74 flu deaths for people 65 and under. At the same time last year, there were 14 flu deaths.
The flu has left many hospital emergency rooms across the Southland overwhelmed with patients. Last month, Pomona Valley Hospital told CBS2 it turned an auditorium next to the ER into a six-bed unit to handle the overflow of patients.
“We’ve had such an overwhelming number of patients that we felt that a separate room would help us with our patient flow,” Dr. Ken Moore said.
Loma Linda University Medical Center set up a tent typically used for disasters to deal with the growing number of patients.
“We’ve actually overflowed pretty much every day so far,” said Dr. Adrian Cotton. “We’ve had about 150 patients total that have gone through the tent in the past two weeks.”
Ventura County health officials reported last week that 35 people had died of the flu in the county so far this season, according to the Ventura County Star newspaper. Of those, only six were under age 65 and none were younger than 43.