12-year-old dies from H1N1 complications

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A 12-year-old died this week of complications from the H1N1 flu, officials at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center said Wednesday.

"Le Bonheur Children's confirms the death of a 12-year-old male resulting from complications of H1N1," a hospital spokesperson said in a written statement. "This is the fifth H1N1 death at Le Bonheur since we began tracking in September 2009."

It was the second time in a week that the hospital announced a death from the virus.  Le Bonheur confirmed the death of a 14-year-old patient from the virus Monday.

In a news conference Tuesday, Dr. Keith English, one of Le Bonheur's leading pediatricians, said people should not think the H1N1 threat is over.  English repeated that statement Wednesday.

"Since we first started seeing H1N1 activity in the middle of August, we've had approximately 275 children admitted to the hospital at Lebonheur - 37 of them admitted to the intensive care unit," English said.

Officials at the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department said the death announced Wednesday was the seventh known influenza-associated death in Shelby County this flu season.  It was announced on the heels of another death, that of a Desoto County teenager who died last week.

According to English, the number of new flu cases has spiked in recent weeks.

"We've seen increased numbers of children going to the intensive care unit with the flu," he said. "We have not yet seen increases of total number of children being admitted to the hospital."

Health officials say there is an ample supply of the vaccine available.

"There are adequate supplies of vaccine and if we need more we are able to get more quite easily," said Dr. Helen Morrow of the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department.

"If you're nine years of age or younger you need two doses of the vaccine, but at six months of age and older, every child should be a candidate to receive the H1N1 influenza vaccine," English added.

Dr. English estimated that only 25 percent of those eligible for an H1N1 vaccination have actually gotten one.

He urged parents to monitor their children for flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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