Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Deaths of five children in four days spark investigation
The Virginian Pilot ^ | 2/22/03 | Steve Stone

Posted on 02/21/2003 10:44:03 AM PST by gregwest

Deaths of five children in four days spark investigation By STEVE STONE, The Virginian-Pilot © February 21, 2003

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.

Reach Steve Stone at 446-2309 or

TOPICS: US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: anthrax; bioterror; children; flu; hampton; health; portsmouth; richmond; virginiabeach
TV news reports state that the children had flu-like symptoms. Victims ranged in age from 2-7. One little girl's parents had taken her to the doctor four times because of her high fever. It was first diagnosed as an ear infection, then the flu. They say that bioterrorism is "unlikely" but all the kids were military dependents. That strikes me as odd. A lot of people have had the flu around here, but to have five kids die like that in five days from the same thing is cause for concern. One day a few weeks ago, the flu was so epidemic that three schools had to be shut down with over 30% of their students absent/ill.
1 posted on 02/21/2003 10:44:04 AM PST by gregwest
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: gregwest
Similar story, here....wonder if there is any connection??
2 posted on 02/21/2003 11:04:14 AM PST by Gopher Broke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: *Anthrax
Anthrax symptoms
3 posted on 02/21/2003 11:33:44 AM PST by AdamSelene235 (Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: AdamSelene235
Anthrax symptoms: That was my first thought also. What's common to all of them?? Day care??
4 posted on 02/21/2003 11:40:18 AM PST by Sacajaweau
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: gregwest
They say that bioterrorism is "unlikely" but all the kids were military dependents.

This article says 2 of 5 are military dependents.

5 posted on 02/21/2003 11:42:18 AM PST by NittanyLion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau
With the diagnosis of "flu", would any of the doctors have prescribed antibiotics. Sometimes, we INSIST that our kids be prescribed antibiotics. It's called "playing it safe" and using your "gut" feeling.
6 posted on 02/21/2003 11:45:22 AM PST by Sacajaweau
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau
What's common to all of them??

Over the counter medication...Just bought a new bottle of Tylenol for my 3 year old who has flu symtoms. My tin-foil hat is on, and I don't think I'll be dosing him anytime soon...

7 posted on 02/21/2003 11:47:05 AM PST by dubyagee
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau
Flu is not treated by antibiotics, but sometimes they are administered anyway because of the emotions of the patient. (No antibiotics? Don't you love me, doc?) They're as good as a sugar pill for effecting cure, but sugar pills have been known to work.

If this is a flu, and it isn't menangitis...if the kids were healthy otherwise (not asthmatics, or chronically ill)... there is cause for concern.

8 posted on 02/21/2003 11:48:53 AM PST by Mamzelle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Mamzelle
Sorry, my cut and paste isn't working.

The article quotes a Dr as saying "most" of the children seem to have had upper airway infections. Does anyone have more information?

I assume that all of the kids were ill in some way, some having infections and others having flu, maybe. If one of the children wasn't sick at all, wouldn't that be mentioned?

9 posted on 02/21/2003 12:53:01 PM PST by Dianna
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: gregwest
We've had several deaths, up to seven now, in Michigan of young kids dying of a particularly nasty flu.

I have three under three so my wife and I are particularly concerned, especially since my Father in law just came down with a high fever.

See story Here

10 posted on 02/21/2003 1:01:04 PM PST by Damocles (sword of..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: gregwest
For anyone interested in the follow-up, it's here:

Officials say they don't find any correlation between the deaths. Just tragic coincidence. Since the first post, one additional child has died, age 13. Simply terrible. My whole family has been sick over the last few weeks with a flu that's hard to kick. My heart goes out to those who lost their kids. It's heartbreaking.

11 posted on 02/25/2003 11:10:21 AM PST by gregwest
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson