Fairbanks Child Dies of Swine Flu

06fludeath   9/6/09    donaldson

A Fairbanks elementary student died of the H1N1 flu over the weekend.  His is the second death attributed to the Swine Flu in Alaska.

The ten-year-old attended school Thursday morning but was released to his parents during the day.  He was hospitalized in Fairbanks just after midnight and later evacuated to Anchorage’s Providence Hospital where he died Friday night.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Beth Funk told reporters yesterday (Sunday) that the child was previously healthy before showing the symptoms.  She said what followed in the next day and a half was a very rapid and unusual deterioration.

#06fludeath1                      :23           We are not aware of any other situation in Alaska that has been this severe and this rapid. However, we’ve been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control – the influenza branch – and they’ve informed us that this seems a very rapid course,  but they are aware of other situations similar to this around the country.

She says a second elementary school-age child, also from Fairbanks, was sent to Providence Friday with flu symptoms,  but is now doing well. There was no known connection between the two.   Additionally, an eleven-month old infant had the H1N1 flu in July and was readmitted to the hospital sometime later where he died.  Funk says there is not a direct connection between that death and the flu but tests are continuing.

A report by the Division of Public Health last week shows the state has confirmed four hundred sixty cases of the flu in Alaska with eighteen people being hospitalized – which Dr. Funk says is very small. The outbreak is also wideapread — meaning it is being found in all areas of the state.

She says a comparison with the annual seasonal influenza is that this strain is starting much earlier in the year.

# 06fludeath2                     :16           To have this circulating in Alaska, all regions, through the summer – it’s unique.  However the severity with illness is probably on par with regular seasonal flu.

The department expects about thirty five thousand doses of vaccine to protect against the H1N1 flu to arrive in the first half of October.   Priorities for that will be given for those twenty four and younger and to pregnant women.

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