Thu, Apr 30, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Toddler first US casualty of swine flu: CDC official

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

A 23-month-old child in Texas has died from the new H1N1 swine flu, becoming the first US death from the virus, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official said yesterday.

It is the first death from swine flu reported outside Mexico, the country hardest hit by the outbreak. US officials have confirmed 65 cases of swine flu, most of them mild but with five hospitalizations in California and Texas.

“Unfortunately, this morning I do have to confirm that we have the first death of a child from H1N1 flu virus. And this is in Texas, a 23-month-old child,” Dr Richard Besser, acting head of the CDC, told the CBS Early Show.

A US government source said the child had recently traveled to Mexico, but gave no further details.

Besser had predicted that as they searched for cases, CDC experts would find severe infections and deaths in the US, even though most of the patients had mild illnesses.

“As we look, we’re going to find more cases. We’re going to find more severe cases and I expect that we’ll continue to see additional deaths,” Besser told NBC’s Today show.

He said additional details would be released by Texas authorities.

Mexico had previously reported the only deaths — 159, based on symptoms and initial tests, with seven deaths so far confirmed by additional laboratory analysis at the WHO.

Influenza regularly kills people around the world, with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths from the seasonal virus every year. Every year at least a few perfectly healthy children die from seasonal influenza in the US.

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