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Health officials seek answers in deaths of five local children
The Virginian Pilot ^ | 02/21/03 | Steve Stone

Posted on 02/20/2003 8:55:18 PM PST by pgkdan

Health officials seek answers in deaths of five local children
By STEVE STONE, The Virginian-Pilot
© February 21, 2003
Last updated 8:58 PM Feb. 20

The Virginia Department of Health is working with local health officials to see if there is any common cause in the deaths of five children that have occurred in as many days.

Four of the children died in Hampton Roads, one in Richmond. All of the children were 7 or younger and all suffered from upper respiratory infections.

``We are concerned about the recent deaths of these children, and we are rapidly investigating to determine the cause,'' said State Health Commissioner Robert B. Stroube.

Little information was released about the children. Of the four from Hampton Roads, two lived in Virginia Beach. The other two are military dependents and their hometowns were not released.

The review of the deaths is being handled by the Health Department's medical examiner's office in cooperation with physicians and epidemiologists from the state, Hampton Roads and Richmond.

The Health Department said the investigation has added urgency given that the nation is on a heightened state of alert. Because of that, the department is monitoring even more closely any situation in which there appears to be a pattern of illnesses or deaths.

Stroube stressed, however, that preliminary findings already suggest that it is ``unlikely'' that the children's deaths are related to bio-terrorism.

As is routine in such circumstances, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have been advised, Stroube said.


TOPICS: Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: cdc; flu; hampton; hamptonroads; portsmouth; richmond; virginiabeach
We had a little 5 year old girl die here in Virginia Beach today with flu-like symptoms. Has anyone else heard of a similar situation elsewhere in the country? As near as I can tell, this is a first for us. Maybe it's not unusual for a child to die during flu season...but 5 in 4 days?

Just two weeks ago 2 local schools were closed because more than 25% of the rosters called in sick.

1 posted on 02/20/2003 8:55:18 PM PST by pgkdan
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To: pgkdan
Just two weeks ago 2 local schools were closed because more than 25% of the rosters called in sick.

We had a similar situation here in Pa last week. No one died though as far as I know.

2 posted on 02/20/2003 9:02:52 PM PST by abner (Cruise the Caribe with FReepers! FRN Network Cruise)
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To: pgkdan
My kid's school in Cumming, GA almost closed for a couple of day's last week due to the large number of student and teacher absences. The primary symptons were a mild cough and general flu like symtoms....
This was a very mild virus but spread like wildfire.....
NeverGore
3 posted on 02/20/2003 9:03:22 PM PST by nevergore
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To: pgkdan
The flue is bad when it digs into an area. It made headlines in the county paper here in Maryland at Chrisistmas and there was not a single person untouched in my big family -- none near death. I can say that my son's classes at school continue to have about 65% the number of students (on average) since Christmas. We were just talking about it today because it is strange.
4 posted on 02/20/2003 9:04:53 PM PST by Woodstock
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To: pgkdan
Stroube stressed, however, that preliminary findings already suggest that it is ``unlikely'' that the children's deaths are related to bio-terrorism

The usual disclaimer.

I haven't heard of this, very sad. We've had a TON of flu here too, they have sent several notes home about not sending sick kids to school. No deaths that I've heard of though.

MKM

5 posted on 02/20/2003 9:05:05 PM PST by mykdsmom (Let him who desires peace, prepare for war.... Vegetius Renatus (~375 AD)
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To: pgkdan
Stroube stressed, however, that preliminary findings already suggest that it is ``unlikely'' that the children's deaths are related to bio-terrorism

I pray these deaths aren't related. But wasn't the sniper in Maryland unlikely to be a black Muslim? Sorry, but as a parent of young children I hope they give some better info. soon.

6 posted on 02/20/2003 9:05:18 PM PST by TXBubba
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To: nevergore
There's a wierd virus definitely going around in the schools here (Chicagoland). It actually starts with a headache and fatigue, and then progresses to the sinuses, etc. I was able to combat it with my kids by giving them Zinc. That's right - plain ol' zinc. $3 a bottlet at the pharmacy, in the vitamin shelves. It'll kill viruses but the docs and pharmaceutical industry doesn't want to admit (and lose revenue) over the concept that zinc is a cheap and very effective remedy against the common cold and flu symptoms, especially if caught in the early stages.
7 posted on 02/20/2003 9:06:44 PM PST by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: mykdsmom
The usual disclaimer.

My thought exactly, but I did not say it because of today's climate of fear. I agree though. Why would someone say this in the middle of winter when people are sick most frequently?

8 posted on 02/20/2003 9:07:28 PM PST by Woodstock
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To: nevergore
We've had it here in Colorado. My oldest son was the first to get it then we all caught it including my parents and brother. Luckily, it was over the MLK weekend/Monday off so my son had a few days to recover. When he went back to school, 12 of the 27 students in his class were absent. I don't guess it was the worst flu I've ever had, but it lingered for several days--not a 24 hour bug at all.
9 posted on 02/20/2003 9:10:00 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
Buying zink tomorrow. The throat candy with zink just does not work.
10 posted on 02/20/2003 9:10:32 PM PST by Woodstock
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To: Woodstock
It seems like no matter what happens they always issue "The Usual Disclaimer" in a matter of minutes.

MKM

11 posted on 02/20/2003 9:11:18 PM PST by mykdsmom (Let him who desires peace, prepare for war.... Vegetius Renatus (~375 AD)
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To: TXBubba
Sorry, but as a parent of young children I hope they give some better info. soon.

Me too. I just watched this story on the local news and they had extensive coverage of the death of the little girl last night. It was heart breaking. I'll be watching this one very closely.

BTW the state medical examiner was interviewed on the news this evening and he looked absolutely scared stiff. It may be that he's just uncomfortable being on TV. I hate to jump to conclusions but this is pretty scary.

12 posted on 02/20/2003 9:12:01 PM PST by pgkdan
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To: beaversmom
Right! Much longer illness. Did not quite want to shoot myself like the 24 hour bug. I even had a flue shot three weeks prior to X-mas. Family of five was still down for the count. Like you, we were thankful for the holiday.
13 posted on 02/20/2003 9:12:34 PM PST by Woodstock
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To: NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
After I got the flu in the middle of January, I got a cold the following Friday and another cold the Friday after. Now we are all sick again with something. My son's started out as a headache and sore throat this morning--probably another cold. I kept giving him Tylenol throughout the day because he kept complaining of a headache. My mom's got it really bad right now. Hers started out with a really bad headache too.
14 posted on 02/20/2003 9:14:00 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: mykdsmom
It seems like no matter what happens they always issue "The Usual Disclaimer" in a matter of minutes

it's become a standard government reflex. I'm not saying that this is anything Bio-terror related...but it's a little early to rule it out, it seems to me.

15 posted on 02/20/2003 9:14:22 PM PST by pgkdan
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To: Woodstock
Ya, know, come to think of it. I know two adaults in PA that were very recently hospitalized with what we thought was food poisoning. In each case the doctor said it was a flu-type thing. Not something you want a young-one to have. We all had "the rejection" from both ends and were very sick for 48 hours.
16 posted on 02/20/2003 9:17:19 PM PST by Woodstock
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To: pgkdan
I saw this on the local news tonight.

There was a similar case out west last year--I believe it was 2 teens in the same family. They died of some form of atypical pneumonia--and they couldn't find answers on autopsy. I thought of that case as soon as I heard about this. Maybe someone else has the link.

17 posted on 02/20/2003 9:20:06 PM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: beaversmom
I was blaming my headache, sinus problems and such on allergies (this is actually allergy season here in Austin) but now you guys have me thinking I had a touch of something else.

BTW...Hi friend. We are floating away here. Sorry I can't send some of it your way. Over 3 inches today and more moving in.

18 posted on 02/20/2003 9:20:41 PM PST by TXBubba
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To: beaversmom
he kept complaining of a headache.

Ya'll are scaring me. I have two kiddos who had this last week....constant headache. This is a current problem and follows that flu-thing we had. o real fever, just feeling sick and a headache.

19 posted on 02/20/2003 9:20:58 PM PST by Woodstock
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To: TXBubba
Hello there buddy. We haven't run into each other on a thread since we met on here, have we? What are you doing up so late? I wish you could move some moisture our way. Nothing yet and I even washed my car at the car wash the other day--that used to do the trick but not anymore.
20 posted on 02/20/2003 9:24:58 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: pgkdan
This may sound weird - but this information just popped into my mind.

What if there is a child who is a carrier (of sorts), meaning a person who has been exposed to whatever infected the children and that child doesn't show any symptoms, but carries the virus or bacteria into the school or community where all the children congregate ...??

I know that in that area, there is one or more very large Muslim conclave. It's a secluded group - but some of them may allow their children to attend school. What if the children have been exposed to some chemical over a period of time - making them amune to it - but it remains on their clothing or hair.

I this may seem like a stretch, but I'm wondering if the children have been tested for a chem screen or a bio screen. I read a doctor commented there didn't appear to be any link to bio-terrorism - but what about other chemicals which are used to produce bombs, etc.; some of that stuff is very toxic and very hazardous if you come in contact with it.

Just thinking outloud.
21 posted on 02/20/2003 9:26:46 PM PST by CyberAnt ( Yo! Syracuse)
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To: NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
I was able to combat it with my kids by giving them Zinc.

ZINC YOU veddy much for the info! (really) I have had that darned sinus-flu thing for almost a week now and it is dreadful! I'll get some zinc tomorrow!

There was an article in our local newspaper a few weeks ago that was about the absence rate for some schools being at about 80%, due to this flu.

Can you imagine what the families of those dead children are going through? How terrible. I'll pray they are comforted.

22 posted on 02/20/2003 9:29:32 PM PST by arasina
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To: Woodstock
Don't be alarmed--it's probably just some normal type virus. Since my son started kindergarten in September he has been constantly sick then he gives it to all the rest of us--mostly colds. I have been a little worried though, because I haven't had this many viruses in one season probably since I was a kid myself. My son went to have his six year physical this past Monday--there must have been 25 kids in the office--most of them were coughing and/or sneezing.
23 posted on 02/20/2003 9:30:00 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: beaversmom
I think you are correct. Well, I am off to bed now as the eyes just won't stay open any longer. My sore throat has returned this evening and I'm going to hold this thread responsible this time. Or it could be the already heavy mold count that is climbing by the second here.

BTW..this flu thing everyone is talking about has been here in Austin also. They have closed some schools here in the past few weeks to try to stop the spread. But we have received no word about any deaths. That is why the number here scares me. I think it is too many too close together.

24 posted on 02/20/2003 9:31:00 PM PST by TXBubba
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To: arasina; NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
Just a note on the Zinc. I have heard it works if used within the first 24 hours of the symptoms but that it isn't much help if started after that. And it can cause stomach upset..personal experience.
25 posted on 02/20/2003 9:33:51 PM PST by TXBubba
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To: pgkdan
It took a few tries, but I finally hit on the right search words:

Clues are sought in mystery illness - 13 YO girl dies, 15 YO brother hospitalized - Irving, Texas
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/736106/posts

Officials Identify Fatal 'Mystery Illness'
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/737219/posts

That second article is pretty misleading, IMO. They shouldn't have died from mycoplasma pnuemonia--unless it was altered in some way.

26 posted on 02/20/2003 9:42:55 PM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: TXBubba
Agreed. Take the zinc with some food - like soda crackers, etc. And by the way, Vitamin C and zinc essentially cancel each other out, chemically-speaking. In other words, when one first starts feeling the nasal "tinglies", etc. take the zinc - first - then vitamin C a couple of days later.
27 posted on 02/20/2003 9:44:10 PM PST by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: Woodstock; beaversmom; TXBubba; arasina
http://www.wholehealthmd.com/refshelf/substances_view/1,1525,10071_VM,00.html

Excerpt:

What Is It?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral. Every cell in the body needs this nutrient and hundreds of body processes rely on it, from the immune system and the enzymes that produce DNA to the senses of taste and smell. Although the body does not produce zinc on its own, this mineral is readily available in drinking water and certain foods. Even so, a surprising number of adults fail to get enough of this mineral through their diet. Better food choices and a good multivitamin and mineral supplement can help compensate for such mild deficiencies.

There's now evidence that supplements may also be useful in providing the extra zinc needed to fight cold and flu symptoms. In addition, zinc has shown promise for speeding the healing of canker sores and sore throat, promoting recovery from skin injuries, reducing tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and controlling acne and eye problems.

Health Benefits

Zinc is believed to promote a strong immune system by, among other things, revitalizing the thymus gland and its production of white blood cells. In addition, autoimmune diseases (chronic ailments linked to the improper functioning of the immune system, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia) may also benefit from zinc supplementation.

Interestingly, the presence of too little zinc has been linked to a decreased immune response in older people. Again, supplemental zinc may be a viable remedy. In a study of 118 relatively healthy but elderly nursing home residents in Italy, researchers found that those given 25 mg of zinc daily for three months developed stronger immune systems.

By boosting the immune system, zinc may also protect against fungal infections and various infectious disorders, such as conjunctivitis and pneumonia. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Specifically, zinc may help to:

Fight colds and flu. When taken promptly at the first signs of illness, zinc lozenges can minimize the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms. Research indicates that the zinc may actually destroy the cold virus, cutting the duration of an infection nearly in half. In one study, common colds disappeared about three days earlier in participants who sucked on zinc lozenges every couple of hours instead of on a placebo lozenge.

Only zinc in the form of zinc gluconate, ascorbate, or glycinate will fight a cold, however, so pick your product carefully. Avoid lozenges containing sorbitol, mannitol, or citric acid, as these chemicals, when combined with saliva, make zinc ineffective.

Accelerate healing of canker sores and sore throat. Zinc lozenges appear not only to boost your resistance to canker sores but also make them heal more quickly should they appear. The lozenges may even stave off a sore throat that's threatening to develop as a result of a cold.

28 posted on 02/20/2003 9:49:50 PM PST by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: pgkdan
Here's an updated report:

--------------------

State and local health officials are investigating the sudden deaths of five children since Sunday, four of them in Hampton Roads.

``It's a very unusual occurrence to have five young children, who to our knowledge are healthy, have sudden deaths in this short time,'' said Dr. Robert B. Stroube, the state health commissioner.

Stroube urged parents not to panic.

``It may just be a purely chance event, and these cases may have absolutely nothing in common,'' Stroube said. Still, anyone with an ill child would be well advised to take normal precautions and see a physician, he said.

The investigation was launched Thursday after the State Medical Examiner's office in Norfolk alerted state health officials that it had four cases of sudden death -- two from Virginia Beach and one each from Portsmouth and Hampton. Richmond's medical examiner then reported a similar death there. State and local health officials are investigating the sudden deaths of five children since Sunday, four of them in Hampton Roads.

``It's a very unusual occurrence to have five young children, who to our knowledge are healthy, have sudden deaths in this short time,'' said Dr. Robert B. Stroube, the state health commissioner.

Stroube urged parents not to panic.

``It may just be a purely chance event, and these cases may have absolutely nothing in common,'' Stroube said. Still, anyone with an ill child would be well advised to take normal precautions and see a physician, he said.

The investigation was launched Thursday after the State Medical Examiner's office in Norfolk alerted state health officials that it had four cases of sudden death -- two from Virginia Beach and one each from Portsmouth and Hampton. Richmond's medical examiner then reported a similar death there.

Four of the five children are girls, Stroube said Thursday night. All are between the ages of 2 and 7. Two of them are believed to be military dependents.

It's unclear if the two Virginia Beach deaths include a Trantwood Elementary School student who died this week from pneumonia. School officials sent a letter home notifying parents Thursday.

None of the children had been hospitalized, Stroube said, though the parents of some of them had sought medical attention.

``Our preliminary investigation shows that most of the children had upper respiratory infections,'' Stroube said, ``colds, earaches, that sort of stuff. Nothing major.''

Stroube said autopsies have been done on all the victims and that a wide variety of tests are now being conducted. As the results of those tests come in, more specific kinds of testing may be required. Because of that, Stroube said, there was no way for him to estimate how long it would take to figure out what -- if anything -- is going on.

``The main thing is we have to find out the cause of death,'' he said.

``If these deaths had occurred over six weeks, we probably wouldn't even have taken note of this,'' Stroube said.

He said the state has notified the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. A CDC epidemiologist based in Virginia is participating in the investigation, which includes a variety of state and local health professionals.

Stroube said the families of the children are being interviewed and that investigators will ``see if there is anything in common that they have with other people who are ill where they may have been.''

The investigation also will include a check with local schools and hospitals.

The probe has added urgency because of the nation's heightened state of alert. Therefore, Stroube said the department is monitoring even more closely any situation in which there appears to be a pattern of illnesses or deaths.

He stressed, however, that preliminary findings already suggest that it is ``unlikely'' that the children's deaths are related to bio-terrorism.

29 posted on 02/21/2003 12:33:27 AM PST by per loin
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To: per loin
Thanks for the update. This is all they talked about this AM on the morning news shows around here. I don't think I'd be sending my youngsters to school today, just to be safe.
30 posted on 02/21/2003 6:18:07 AM PST by pgkdan
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To: pgkdan
It's important to know whether these kids were in otherwise good health. If they were not, were chronically ill due to other ailments, that would be significant.
31 posted on 02/21/2003 11:17:02 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle
It doesn't say so in this article but it was reported last night on the news that ALL were in apparent good health. They were just happy, healthy, normal little kids.
32 posted on 02/21/2003 12:18:57 PM PST by pgkdan
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To: pgkdan
Apparently in Michigan they are having an outbreak that has killed 7 with similar symptoms.
33 posted on 02/21/2003 1:12:52 PM PST by judicial meanz ( socialism- its a mental disorder, not a political view.)
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To: pgkdan
Remember that awful story that was on FR a couple of days ago, about a little 4-year 0ld girl whose corpse had been sexually violated?

She also succumbed to a mysterious illness - she was running, jumply and playing one day, suffered fever, convulsions and death the next.

I'm going to look up and see what state she lived in.
34 posted on 02/21/2003 1:23:36 PM PST by SarahW
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To: SarahW
This child died in San bernadino, all the way across the country.

35 posted on 02/21/2003 1:29:54 PM PST by SarahW
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To: pgkdan
The Richmond Times Dispatch had a column about this today, and said it is suspected in at least one case, a virus had invaded tissues of the heart and caused death.

It might be a cocksackie virus, I suppose; or maybe some kikd of viral encephalitis.
36 posted on 02/21/2003 1:31:47 PM PST by SarahW
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To: pgkdan
Bad news...flu usually hits the elderly and chronically ill the hardest. These weren't even infants. Here comes a bad bug.
37 posted on 02/21/2003 1:32:12 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle; flutters; per loin
Now this was true -precognition-
38 posted on 04/29/2003 6:33:22 PM PDT by TaxRelief
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To: TaxRelief
Any word over the similar circumstance in the Detroit area not too long back?
39 posted on 04/30/2003 3:42:32 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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