The 10-year-old New Canaan boy who died unexpectedly on Sunday morning succumbed to an “overwhelming infection” brought on by secondary pneumonia to the flu, according to New Canaan Medical Director Dr. David Reed.
Citing information from a pediatrician who had consulted with a New York state medical examiner’s office about its findings, Reed said that it appears the infection or sepsis that has been identified as a cause of death emerged in the boy after his immune system had been fighting a “very typical” flu.
“When you get presented with a virus or cateria, the immune system starts cranking out antibodies to kill it, but if the infection takes off, your body’s immune system is overwhelmed, and you may get a secondary infection,” Reed told NewCanaanite.com.
Repeating his advice to parents who are concerned about their own child’s exposure to flu, Reed said, “The message is to get a vaccination, it’s not too late.”
Nico Mallozzi’s family agreed to share the medical investigator’s information with the public, Reed said.
The health concerns have emerged as a worrying sidebar for New Canaan and wider youth hockey communities shocked by the sudden loss of a popular West School fourth-grader and eager to support Nico’s family in any way possible. An online memorial fund established by members of the Connecticut RoughRiders Hockey Program to support the Mallozzis has raised more than $50,000 in less than one day.
Part of the GoFundMe page reads: “One of Nico’s coaches described him best: Nico’s sly little smile and charm have captivated, entertained and kept us on our toes. Our rink won’t be the same with out him. Nico was an amazing player, teammate and friend … not to mention, a bit of jokester with a trademark smile.”
Nico passed away after leaving a hockey tournament early this past weekend because he had been feeling unwell, district officials have said. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi in a post on the district’s website described Nico as a “vibrant” and “fun-loving” boy who loved sports. He was a “wonderful, enthusiastic, outgoing boy who was known school-wide for his high spirits, limitless energy, and quick smile,” Luizzi said.
The superintendent in the same message also notified parents that because of the presence of flu, public school custodians are doing extra “cleanings” at all buildings.
According to Reed, Nico had been seen at a good local hospital in Buffalo—site of the youth hockey tournament—and diagnosed there with flu. There was “no way to know in advance, no sign specifically” showing that Nico’s body also was becoming overwhelmed by an infection due to pneumonia secondary to the flu at that point, Reed said.
One of Nico’s brothers is said to be sick with flu in hospital currently, according to the medical director.
Reed urged families to use the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as a resource for information on flu prevention and activity. Symptoms of the contagious respiratory illness include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and headache, according to the CDC.
Reed has advised families concerned about flu exposure to consult with a pediatrician about whether administering Tamiflu-brand medicine is appropriate.
If their children are feeling sick, parents should “keep them home,” he said.