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Officials believe child died of H1N1

Posted September 25, 2009

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— State public health officials reported Friday that they believe a North Carolina child has died of the H1N1 flu virus.

This is the first child death linked to the virus in North Carolina since H1N1 was first reported last spring, officials said. Ten other North Carolina residents have also died from the illness.

The child died last Saturday of complications from the flu. The child was at risk for complications because of underlying medical conditions, officials said.

State public health officials refused to release the child's hometown, county, age and sex citing a state law dealing with patient confidentiality.

Attorneys for WRAL News disagree, saying some specifics can and should be released for the public good.

State: Child dies of H1N1 Child may have died of H1N1

Although the child's flu test was not specific to H1N1, the strain accounts for 99 percent of all flu now circulating in the state and country, officials said, so they believe H1N1 to be linked to the death.

"This is always a difficult announcement to make,” State Health Director Dr. Jeffrey Engel said in a statement. “We hope that making people aware of this tragic case will remind others to be vigilant about protecting themselves and their children.”

Engel said vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. Seasonal flu vaccine is already available, and the first doses of an H1N1 vaccine are expected to be delivered nationwide next month.

Children ages 6 months to 24 years are one of the priority groups to receive the H1N1 vaccine, along with pregnant women, people who live with or care for infants, health care and emergency workers and adults with weakened immune systems.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in flu activity since school started,” said Dr. Zack Moore, a respiratory disease epidemiologist for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Flu shots help prevent people from becoming ill and from spreading flu to others,” Engel said. “This year they are even more important because of H1N1. And if you do get sick, remember to stay home from work or school, cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands.”

Health officials say one of the best ways to help lower risk to the flu is to practice basic prevention tips, including frequent hand washing, avoiding others exhibiting symptoms and staying at home, if sick.

Dr. Bobby Park, who works at the WakeMed Hospital emergency room, said there has been a lot of flu cases coming into the hospital.

The flu season doesn't traditionally start until November or December, Park said, but sick patients are already coming in, in large numbers.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • donnaferguson Sep 25, 2009

    shortcake HIPPA is a FEDERAL LAW that protects patient privacy. It has nothing to do with a 'conspiracy' to keep the county a secret. Don't u know by now that if WRAL could report it they would? My condolences to the family. Having lost an immediate family member in his childhood, I know the lifetime of pain and grief this family will feel.

  • Thornedwolf Sep 25, 2009

    Wow my heart goes out to the kids family now that being said I beleve this is the first death in NC sense this pandimic begin over 7 months ago now? So my question is why is it still such a big news story? Dose the media entertain itself by trying to frighten the public?

  • asksanta Sep 25, 2009

    If you read the story Rushbot, you would know that's all the info WRAL was allowed to get.

  • Worland Sep 25, 2009

    From the briefings we have received on H1N1, it is more likely to cause stomach issues than the typical flu. But, H1N1 symptoms are being reported as very mild compared to your typical winter flu. If you've ever had a flu shot, you're unlikely to get more than a stuffy nose for a few days with H1N1. Most of us have probably already had H1N1 and didn't even know it.

    From what we've been briefed, the H1N1 is an interesting combo virus of human/avian/swine flu strains all in one. Other than being uncommon, it's not very lethal as compared to your typical flu.

  • mtngirldcm Sep 25, 2009

    According to the CDC, H1N1 is really the ONLY flu strain currently active in the US. Because this flu is swine/avian in nature, seemingly healthy people can, and DO, get very, very ill from this. It is certainly nothing to take lightly.
    My heart goes out to this family who lost a child. I am certain they never thought for a moment this would be the outcome.

  • beachluver Sep 25, 2009

    Angelluv - More than likely your child also has H1N1 as that is the dominant (98%) strain of flu circulating right now; however, the flu is the flu is the flu right now - thank goodness for that! H1N1 is no more severe than seasonal flu at this time. The basic thing is it doesn't matter what type of flu someone has, people need to do the same thing - STAY HOME for 24 hours until their fever subsides without fever reducing medications, treat the symptoms, and seek medical treatment if the symptoms worsen or if you are in one of the high risk groups. People, please education yourselves on this by viewing www.cdc.gov/h1n1 or www.flu.gov.

  • rushbot Sep 25, 2009

    What kind of reporting is this WRAL? Where did this occur? How hard did you all try to find out?

  • inquistitor Sep 25, 2009

    Well, the sentiment seems to be the same from most here. What a stupis tag line!

  • TriangleMommy Sep 25, 2009

    peppercorns - underlying medical conditions doesn't mean the child could have died from a cold. Immune suppressed means the common cold could kill them.
    My child is one of those in the "High Risk" category, because she is a child with epilepsy.
    But of course it doesn't mean I'll keep her isolated either.

    My prayers are with this family. Very sad!

  • shortcake53 Sep 25, 2009

    What a crummy thing to do, to scare parents all over the state by not releasing where this occured. I dont appreciate being held emotionally hostage in this manner. Either tell the whole story or dont open your pie hole at all.