Common illness blamed for 5-year-old girl’s sudden death

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ADA, Mich. – A 5-year-old Michigan girl with special needs died unexpectedly Friday night after contracting a virus that affects the respiratory system.

Doctors said Audrey Lou Jandernoa died of complications from pneumonia stemming from the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).  Dr. Dan Mcgee, a pediatric hospitalist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, said RSV acts like a common cold in healthy adults but can be deadly in young children or people with a weak immune system.

Friends and family in her Forest Hills community remember Jandernoa as a fun-loving child with a contagious smile and vigor for life, according to WXMI. She was a student at Ada Elementary in their Early Childhood Special Education Program.

"There was something special about Audrey that brought about a smile and a warmth of the heart to anyone who came in contact with her," said Dan Behm, superintendent of Forest Hills Schools.

Both McGee and Behm said there are simple steps you can take to prevent the spread of illness and infection.

"For now, the only way you can help prevent it is, like with every other illness, is through good hand-washing and keeping away from people who are ill," McGee said.

McGee said RSV is common and hospitals keep staff at a different level during winter months to combat the illness.

A celebration of life is planned for Tuesday evening. Friends and family will gather for Jandernoa's funeral the following morning.

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