The Iowa Department of Public Health says it has confirmed the first child death in the state from the H-1-N-1 virus. Health Department medical director Patricia Quinlisk says the child died in eastern Iowa in October. Quinlisk says the child had some risk factors that put them at higher risk of having complications from the flu. Quinlisk says even though this child had higher risk factors, we need to be aware that there have been cases nationally where healthy children have died from H-1-N-1.
Doctor Quinlisk says H-1-N-1 does seem to be hitting kids harder than older adults.She says there have been many more deaths in children and would be expected from influenza, as she says the flu deaths are typically more common in the elderly. Quinlisk says with H-1-N-1 for reasons they don’t understand, people over 60 have not been as ill with H-1-N-1, while “we’ve had unfortunately quite a few children get very ill.”
Quinlisk says parents need to be aware of a child’s health and look for problems signs of the flu. Quinlisk says the sings to look for are you child having trouble breathing or breathing very fast, if their skin is bluish or gray; if they are not drinking enough fluids, severe or persistent vomiting; not waking up or not interacting with people and things around them, or if they are so irritable that the child does not want to be held.
Quinlisk says if the child’s flu symptoms appear to get better, but in a couple of days the fever and cough return, then that is also a warning sign. She says it’s important for adults around kids to get the seasonal flu vaccine to help prevent the spread of flu to kids.
Quinlisk says Iowa should soon be able to offer more H-1-N-1 vaccinations. She says they have been told that more vaccine is coming in and in larger amounts and they hope to be able to vaccinate more people in the coming weeks. Quinlisk says they will still give first priority for the H-1-N-1 vaccine to those at highest risk, which includes children.
For more information about H-1-N-1 flu, visit: www.idph.state.ia.us/h1n1. You may also call the toll-free Influenza Hotline at 1-800-447-1985.