Skip to comments.Deaths of five children in four days spark investigation
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
This article says 2 of 5 are military dependents.
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...
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.
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?
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