When doctors diagnosed a usually healthy 12-year-old girl with the flu, her family thought they had nothing to worry about. After her condition deteriorated further, however, they had no choice but to rush her to the hospital. That’s where she tragically passed away, just days after becoming sick.
Alyssa Alcaraz was just like any other 12-year-old girl. She came from the city of Visalia in California, where she lived with her mom, Keila Lino, and her three siblings. And it’s safe to say that Alcaraz had a lust for life.
Like many girls her age, the pre-teen was a music lover. Alcaraz attended Green Acres Middle School where she sang in the choir. She also enjoyed creating music videos on a special lip-syncing app.
Recalling her daughter’s vivacious nature, in January 2018 Alcaraz’s mom, Lino, told People, “She was very outgoing, she was the clown in the family. She was always happy, always singing in the car, in the house, just a really bubbly girl.”
Not only did Alcaraz boast a lively character, but she was also a focused young girl. ”Alyssa was smart, you never saw her in a bad mood,” Lino said. “You never had to be on top of her about doing her chores or homework. She was just a joyful little girl.”
In December 2017 Alcaraz had been enjoying the season’s festivities. She’d performed a Christmas concert with her school choir, and she was likely looking forward to spending some time with her loved ones.
However, the youngster and her family could never have known that Alcaraz wouldn’t live to see another Christmas – a holiday that she had loved so much. And the reason why may well haunt the schoolgirl’s family forever.
One day that December, Alcaraz came home from school after vomiting. Her family suspected that she had caught a bug or perhaps the flu. So, they decided to take her to a nearby urgent care center to have her checked out as quickly as possible.
At Kaweah Delta Urgent Care, doctors diagnosed Alcaraz with the flu. She consequently received some medication to combat her nausea, as well as cough syrup and ibuprofen. Then, experts advised her to simply go home and get some much-needed rest.
At that point, Alcaraz’s mom saw no reason to worry. “She was very healthy, and just out of nowhere she got sick,” Lino explained. “She’s been sick with the cold and flu before. So, it was just one of those things that didn’t seem like anything new to us.”
At home, however, Alcaraz’s condition deteriorated. She lost her appetite, felt fatigued and began to have trouble breathing. And the speed at which the illness took hold of Alcaraz caught Lino by surprise. “It was just so rapid,” she said. “Everything was just so sudden.”
Concerned, Lino took her ailing daughter back to urgent care. After testing the youngster’s oxygen levels, doctors saw that they were perilously low. Consequently, they rushed her to Kaweah Delta Medical Center to undergo tests for meningitis.
From there, though, Alcaraz’s condition went downhill rapidly. “The doctor wanted to rule out meningitis, though she wasn’t complaining about her neck,” Lino recalled. “We were starting to do that procedure to test her fluid when she coded.”
Alcaraz had slipped into cardiac arrest. And tragically, there was nothing that doctors could do to save her. She passed away on December 17, 2017, at the age of just 12. At the time, her devastated family believed that meningitis had claimed their loved one’s life. However, they later learned that this was not the case.
Days after her daughter’s passing, Lino was in the midst of planning Alcaraz’s memorial service. And that was when she received an unexpected call from staff at the funeral home. It turned out that Alcaraz had in fact died from septic shock, after a strep infection infiltrated her bloodstream.
Strep blood infections are a form of group B strep disease. If correctly diagnosed, the condition can be treated with IV fluids and antibiotics. So, if doctors hadn’t mistaken Alcaraz’s illness for flu, she may have still been here today.
The revelation was a difficult one for Lino to process. “I was shocked, it was just mixed emotions. I thought finding out what it was would offer come closure of some kind,” she said. “Once we found out what it was, I was just shocked that something so simple took my baby.”
Following her ordeal, Lino worried that her doctors couldn’t be trusted. The fact that Alcaraz could have possibly been “fixed with blood work and antibiotics” left her with unanswered questions. “As a mother, now I’m so paranoid,” she told The Independent.
Lino believes that because her daughter was taken ill during the winter, her doctors were preoccupied with flu season and so jumped to the wrong conclusion. The months prior to Alcaraz’s death had seen the virus put a particular strain on hospitals. Indeed, from October to December 2017 there were 13,400 flu cases in the U.S.
So that her daughter’s death wasn’t in vain, Lino has encouraged other parents to query their children’s diagnosis if they have any doubts. “All I can do now is tell other mothers to push their doctors to do further testing,” she said.