Students say goodbye to 5-year-old flu victim

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THORNTON, Colo. -- Five year old Jarelie Oronia Madrigal  will always be remembered as a vibrant, happy little girl who brought joy to all around her.

Before her death from complications of the flu, Jarelie attended the Renewal Academy in Thornton.  Teacher Melissa Quesada tearfully reflected about her. “She always came in with a positive attitude each day just smiling. They talk about how us as teachers make an impact on their lives, but they really make an impact on ours.”

Jarelie’s family found comfort at a special ceremony at the school.  Students presented them with roses then released balloons draped in Jarelie’s favorite color, purple.

Heartbroken, the students also created a purple memorial for their classmate and wrote goodbye letters thanking Jarelie for teaching them how to make bracelets.  The school is providing counseling for the students.

School administrator Angelica Rodriguez says they are doing all they can to support the family and students. “It's definitely the fact of letting (students) know that she's not there and not coming back.”

Even with heavy hearts , the family wants other parents to realize just how important it is to quickly respond to flu symptoms.

Medical experts at Children`s Hospital Colorado say any child experiencing respiratory problems and a fever of higher than a hundred should have immediate medical attention.

Dr. Chris Nyquist explains, “Little babies may just have a fever, not feed well and be a little sluggish and toddlers might actually be throwing up or having diarrhea.”

Any parent with doubts about their child’s condition should contact a doctor to find answers.

The Colorado Department of Public Health says the flu season peaked in late December, but is still hitting several areas hard.

In Boulder County, 82 people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms, the highest number in seven years.  Statewide there have been more than 1,900 hospitalizations this flu season alone.

Keep your family safe by avoiding exposure to the virus by practicing hand washing several times a day, limiting access to anyone with flu symptoms and eating a balanced diet.

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