US child deaths from swine flu ‘shoot up’: official


US child deaths from swine flu 'shoot up': officialChild deaths from swine flu were ‘shooting up’ in the United States, with 19 deaths from influenza reported in recent days, a US health official said Friday.
“Nineteen more paediatric deaths for influenza were reported to us this week. We’re now up to 76 children having died from the 2009 H1N1 virus,” said Anne Schuchat, a senior official at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“To put that in context, in the past three years, the total paediatric influenza deaths ranged from 46-88. We’ve already had 76 children dying from the H1N1 virus and it’s only the beginning of October,” Schuchat said.
The flu season in the United States runs from August to March; the three previous seasons did not have concurrent outbreaks of seasonal and H1N1 influenza.
Child deaths from the new strain of H1N1 flu had fallen back in the warm summer months after peaking during the spring, said Schuchat.
But they were “starting to shoot up again” with the onset of the autumn flu season, she said, urging parents to have their children vaccinated against flu.
The United States this week began a massive campaign to inoculate millions of people against swine flu.
Children are one of five groups given high priority for the vaccinations, currently available only in the form of a nasal spray made with greatly weakened, but live, H1N1 virus.
Clinical trials of the nasal spray vaccine have shown that it produces “a robust immune response” with one dose in children over the age of nine.
But younger children will require two doses of the vaccine and infants cannot have it at all.
Children are deemed to be at particular risk from the novel swine flu virus, and the CDC has recommended that all children be inoculated against seasonal and A(H1N1) influenza this season.
On Monday, the CDC reported that the number of swine flu cases worldwide had jumped by at least 24,000 in two weeks to exceed 343,000, while deaths from the H1N1 virus edged up to more than 4,100.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2009