CDC: Swine Flu Claims 1st Victim in US
Wed, 04/29/2009 - 4:56am
MIKE STOBBE AP Medical Writer ATLANTA (AP) — The CDC on Wednesday confirmed the nation's first swine flu death in the current outbreak, a 23-month-old child in Texas. The first swine flu death outside of Mexico was confirmed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Dave Daigle. The acting head of the CDC called the confirmation tragic, but said it's too soon to say just how fast the swine flu virus is spreading. Dr. Richard Besser said in a nationally broadcast network interview that health authorities had anticipated that the virus would cause deaths, and said that "as a pediatrician and a parent, my heart goes out to the family." But Besser said on NBC's "Today" show that it's too soon to say if the death in Texas suggests the virus is spreading to more states. Nor would he say whether officials think it will become a nationwide problem. He also said he does not believe the flu strain has become more dangerous. Besser went on to note that even with seasonal flu, there are always some people who can't resist it very well, and said authorities need to learn more about the threat. Children, especially those younger than age 5, are particularly vulnerable to flu and its complications, and every year children die from seasonal flu. According to the CDC, more than 20,000 children younger than age 5 are hospitalized every year because of seasonal flu. In the 2007-08 flu season, the CDC received reports that 86 children nationwide died from flu complications. As of April 11, CDC had received reports of 53 seasonal flu-related deaths in children during the current seasonal flu season.