Fri, Dec 30, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Influenza kills girl, 12; medics urge vaccination

Staff Writer, with CNA

A mother holds her daughter while she receives an injection in Greater Taichung yesterday. The Department of Health has urged the public to get government-funded inoculations against flu and streptococcus pneumoniae.

Photo: Tsai Shu-yuan, Taipei Times

A 12-year-old girl in Greater Taichung died on Tuesday of complications from type B influenza, marking Taichung’s first fatal case of flu this year, the city’s Public Health Bureau said on Wednesday.

The girl, surnamed Hung (洪), developed flu symptoms on Dec. 14 and was transferred to Taichung Veterans General Hospital for emergency care, the bureau said.

Hung was given extracorporeal membrane oxygenation after she went into shock with low blood pressure, respiratory difficulty and a low white blood cell count, the hospital said.

Hung, a Tantsu Junior High School student, had no travel history and had never received a flu vaccine, the hospital said.

The death of a teenager as a result of flu is rare in Taiwan, although the number of flu cases in elementary and junior high schools has risen this year, said Chen Po-yen (陳伯彥), head of the hospital’s department of pediatrics.

The outbreak of type B influenza started in summer and three-fifths of pediatrics outpatients at the hospital have been diagnosed with that flu strain, Chen said.

The complications can be serious, so parents need to be on the alert, he said.

The other five members of Hung’s family are in good health, but four of her classmates have started to show flu symptoms, the bureau said.

However, it is not known whether the students were infected by Hung, it said.

The school said it had disinfected Hung’s classroom and the campus several times since she fell ill.

Huang Mei-na (黃美娜), director of the bureau, urged people over 65 years of age and children between six months and six years take advantage of Taichung’s free flu vaccination program as there are still 8,502 doses left.

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