Sunday, November 1, 2009

H1N1 update: 75 pediatric influenza deaths in 8 weeks

According to a weekly report released from the Centers for Disease Control, 75 children have died from influenza since August 30, 2009. Sixty five of those are confirmed H1N1 and 10 suspected H1N1.

The good part ...

Although the distribution of the H1N1 vaccination has been delayed, it is expected to be more available for the general public in the month of November. According to the H1N1 in PA Web site, the state is awaiting more vaccines from the suppliers. The site has been updated in the past week and it says they will post information identifying vaccination sites here when it is available. In the meantime they suggest talking to your doctor if you are in a high risk group to find out what local places will distribute the shot. If you are unable to find the vaccine in your area, the site said to call the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

While nearly all the influenza cases identified are the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus, the virus remains similar to the virus used to develop the H1N1 vaccine. Additionally, the virus remains highly susceptible to two of the antiviral drugs.

IV antiviral drug Peramivir was approved by the FDA this week for use in pediatric and adult patients admitted to the hospital for H1N1. The drug was issued an emergency approval and is currently the only antiviral drug administered intravenously.

Now the rest of the facts ...

The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza far exceeds what is normal at this time of the year. Twenty-two pediatric flu deaths were reported this week. Nineteen were confirmed H1N1 and the additional three are considered likely H1N1. The CDC said the H1N1 virus is the only flu virus circulating at the moment. Since April 2009, 114 laboratory-confirmed H1N1 cases have resulted in death of a child younger than 18 and another 12 more children died from suspected H1N1 virus.

The vaccine is still in short supply so health care officials are reminding people to seek treatment with any concerning symptoms. CDC officials said those with underlying health concerns or in high risk groups need to seek immediate medical treatment if they suspect the have the H1N1 flu. They stated a only half of the high-risk population is heading that advice and consequently, officials said the lack of medical attention is leading to more hospitalizations and complications. Emergency rooms are reporting high volumes however, so it is advised to seek care from your primary doctor or child's pediatrician unless severe symptoms are suspected.

The high risk groups are: pregnant women, persons six months to 24 years old, Health care providers and EMS personnel, parents, household members or caregivers of children less than six months and those under 65 with certain underlying medical conditions (including respiratory conditions like asthma).

Pediatric deaths from H1N1
Current influenza season (data from August 30)
75 suspected pediatric deaths (65 confirmed H1N1)

Since April 2009
114 confirmed H1N1 pediatric deaths

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