Child receiving an H1N1 nasal vaccine swab. AP Photo/Nati Harnik
The death of a 6-year-old boy from Corcoran, Minn., was the seventh in Minnesota attributed to the H1N1 (swine flu). The Hennepin County medical examiner announced yesterday that pathology tests found H1N1 to be the cause of the boy’s death on Sept. 24.
Three of Minnesota's seven deaths related to H1N1 influenza have been in children under 9. The boy from Corcoran was the only one not to have any previous health conditions.
H1N1 appears to be hitting children and pregnant women the hardest nationwide so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking these cases more carefully than the general population.
"For most people, the H1N1 flu is not severe; however, we know that children are especially vulnerable to this new virus," said Dr. Sanne Magnan, Minnesota Commissioner of Health.
Warning signs that a child may need immediate medical attention for H1N1:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish or gray skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Of Minnesota's 327 hospitalized cases to date, 138 of them were children under the age of 9, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
While H1N1 shots are not yet available, state and federal officials are hoping to ward off the virus through antivirals, such as Tamiflu, and a nasal vaccine. Supplies of the nasal-spray Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) arrived in Minnesota and other locations around the country today.
The nasal spray which contains live virus isn’t appropriate for children under age 2 or children that have asthma.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has released about 300,000 courses of liquid pediatric Tamiflu for children in states that request it, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a press briefing.
She noted that while some of the stockpiled Tamiflu is expired, the CDC has tested the antiviral and found it safe.
When the H1N1 vaccine becomes available it will be prioritized among health care and emergency medical services personnel, pregnant women, people who care for children younger than 6 months of age, people between 6 months and 24 years of age, and anyone who has chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
The MDH advises that people continue to follow basic protection and prevention measures:
• Stay home if you are ill. You should remain home 24 hours past the time your fever disappears.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or with your sleeve, not with your hands.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.
• Stay healthy by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy food and exercising.
• People who develop severe flu symptoms, or who are at risk for flu complications, should contact a health care provider.
Advice for Parents on Talking to Children About Novel H1N1 Flu (Formerly Swine Flu) Concerns