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Parents Should Be Alert To Flu Signs; eighth child in Michigan to die in the last month
Jackson Citizen Patriot ^

Posted on 03/03/2003 7:46:20 AM PST by RCW2001

By Bradley Flory
Staff Writer

Parents began calling Frost Elementary School and the Jackson County Health Department as word spread of the death of 9-year-old Natalie H. Emmons.

They wanted to know one thing: Should we worry about our children?

Emmons, a fourth-grader at Frost, died Thursday after being sick with flu-like symptoms. She had a seizure and then cardiac arrest.

She is at least the eighth child in Michigan to die in the last month after a flu-like illness. Her death comes as Jackson County is at the peak of flu season.

"We don't want parents to panic, but we want them to be alert for signs of severe illness," said Geralyn Lasher, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

"Key signs that you should seek medical attention are stiffness and soreness in the neck, very sudden and persistent headaches, sudden high fever, disorientation or difficulty breathing."

Seven cases of influenza are confirmed this year in Jackson County, said Ronald Grimes, head of the Health Department. Many more cases may be undiagnosed because the definitive test, a nasal swab, is rarely given.

Dr. John Maino, county medical examiner, said it will take several days to determine if Emmons had the flu.

Around the state, other suspicious deaths were reported in Washtenaw, Oakland, Kent and Newaygo counties, Lasher said. Three deaths were conclusively linked to influenza and the rest are still being studied.

"There is nothing to suggest that any of the Michigan cases are related to each other or any cases in other states, like Virginia," Lasher said.

"Sadly, this is not out of the ordinary."

Children and adults can increase their chances of staying healthy by taking good preventative measures, Lasher said. She advised getting plenty of rest, good nutrition, exercise and frequent and thorough hand-washing.

Grimes said it is not too late to get a flu shot, although few doses remain at the Health Department. It takes 10 to 15 days for the shot to do any good.

"Getting a shot won't protect you right now," he said. "It's not an immediate thing."

Emmons is survived by her parents, Sandra and Todd Emmons; two sisters, Alexandra and Dayna; and grandparents Richard and Evelyn Horn.

-- Reach reporter Bradley Flory at or 768-4925.

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: flu; hamptonroads; portsmouth; richmond; sars
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1 posted on 03/03/2003 7:46:20 AM PST by RCW2001
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To: RCW2001
This one is to close to home!
2 posted on 03/03/2003 7:47:21 AM PST by RCW2001
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To: RCW2001
re: "Sadly, this is not out of the ordinary." )))

Sounds out of the ordinary to me. Flu generally kills the elderly, infant, and chronically ill, not several otherwise healthy children in a particular area. Sounds like a bad bug.

3 posted on 03/03/2003 7:49:40 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: RCW2001
bump for later read
4 posted on 03/03/2003 7:53:30 AM PST by exnavy
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To: Dan from Michigan
Have you seen this, any insight?
5 posted on 03/03/2003 7:55:55 AM PST by exnavy
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To: dd5339; cavtrooper21
sad ping
6 posted on 03/03/2003 7:58:29 AM PST by Vic3O3 ( least there's CCW!)
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To: Mamzelle
I think it's off too. I work in healthcare and you don't see children this age dying from the flu, unless they have a complicating issue.
7 posted on 03/03/2003 7:59:35 AM PST by MarMema
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To: cajungirl
8 children in one month?
8 posted on 03/03/2003 8:00:10 AM PST by MarMema
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To: RCW2001
NEVER give children ASPIRIN. Use Tylenol, etc.
9 posted on 03/03/2003 8:01:53 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: MarMema
My kids have been sick with a stomach flu. It was real bad. My 6 yr old was down for a week. She then got better. Now she is sick again. This news of kids dying has me a nervous wreck and i am keeping a close eye on her. It seems quite odd to me also that healthy kids are dropping dead. ;( Prayers to the familes affected .
10 posted on 03/03/2003 8:04:05 AM PST by ElisabethInCincy
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To: RCW2001
Here is a article written on Feb. 23 with more info and other states affected...

CDC reacts to deaths with alert to officials
© February 23, 2003
Last updated: 7:42 PM

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are alerting every state health agency to watch for child deaths similar to those that have occurred in recent weeks in Virginia, Michigan and Ohio.

So far, the CDC has received reports of at least 14 children nationally who have died suddenly after experiencing upper respiratory infections and fevers.

The alert is entirely routine, a CDC spokeswoman said Saturday. Local, state and federal officials said there is still no evidence that the cluster of deaths in such a short period represents anything other than a tragic coincidence.

‘‘From what we have learned so far, it does look like a viral-related situation,’’ said Kathy Harben, a CDC spokeswoman in Atlanta. ‘‘There are no known links between the patients,’’ she said, noting the cases were still being evaluated.

In addition to the CDC alert, Virginia’s health department sent letters Friday asking physicians to notify state health officials of patients who have suffered from any unexplained or unusual illness.

By late Saturday afternoon, state health officials had no new information to report on the unusual deaths of five Virginia children — four in Hampton Roads — in four days. More information may become available Monday afternoon, said Trina Lee, a Virginia Department of Health spokeswoman.

Maria C. Carter, 2, of Portsmouth, may have suffered from an infection that moved to her heart, medical examiners said after an autopsy. Maria died Feb. 16. Seven-year-old Rachel Broome of Virginia Beach went home sick Monday with a cough and died Wednesday. Bianca Zelena Soria, 6, of Hampton, died the same day from what is believed to have been a viral infection.

At least one more child from Hampton Roads and one from Richmond have died after having similar symptoms, Lee said.

If the deaths prove to be simply an atypical result of a typical flu season, that should come as no surprise, Harben said: ‘‘The flu situation is different every year.’’

All the children suffered symptoms common with viral or bacterial infections.

‘‘I understand that all parents will be concerned about their children,’’ said Dr. Robert B. Stroube, the Virginia health commissioner. ‘‘However, at this time of the year, many children have upper respiratory infections and flu, and at this point I have no reason to believe children are at an increased risk of serious illness.’’

The CDC probe includes seven deaths in Michigan between Jan. 25 and Feb. 3 and two in Ohio as well as the five last week in Virginia.

An additional case, the death of an 18-month-old Elizabeth City boy who died Thursday at Albemarle Regional Hospital, remains under investigation by North Carolina health officials.

The first death to catch the attention of public health officials came Jan. 25 when 14-year-old David Tripp of Ypsilanti, Mich., died suddenly after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

So far, only a few of the Michigan children who died have tested positive for influenza, state health officials said. But public health authorities suspect it may have been a factor in several of the deaths.

Because some of the children, including David Tripp, became ill so suddenly and died without having had flu sophisticated tissue-sample tests, which can take weeks to conduct and don’t always provide definite answers.

Despite assurances of health officials, many Hampton Roads parents are still worried. Some continued to take their children to hospital emergency rooms Saturday, fearful that seemingly normal illnesses could be more sinister.

In 15 hours, from midnight Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday, doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters saw about 200 emergency-room patients, said Becky Ceraul, the hospital’s spokesperson. Normally, in 24 hours, they handle 120.

Ceraul estimated a several hour wait for each patient. By Saturday evening, doctors and nurses were still tending to the patients. Extra doctors and nurses have been called to help. Ceraul expects patients to crowd the emergency room today as well.

Ann C. Keffer, spokeswoman for Sentara a Healthcare, said that emergency rooms at hospitals on Saturday had only seen a slight decrease in the number of patients, compared to Friday’s heavy crowd. Sentara Healthcare officials also called in extra staff at their hospitals.

‘‘We’re so busy that we’re having a hard time keeping numbers straight,’’ Keffer said.

The CDC’s Harben echoed the advice of state health officials that parents take simple precautions:

Children should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water.

Parents should make sure that children cover their mouths when they cough.

Children who are ill should stay home from school until they are feeling better.

‘‘We advise parents to take the same precautions to protect their children that they would take to help prevent catching a cold, the flu, or any respiratory infection,’’ said Suzanne Jenkins.

11 posted on 03/03/2003 8:12:27 AM PST by RCW2001
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To: MarMema
>>8 children in one month?

and I think 5 or 6 in virginia too in a small span of my area (New England) a little three year old died in her sleep just last week. She had been seen by the doctor for flu/strep symptons and all of a sudden took a horrible turn for the worse in the middle of the a parent of 4 small kids I can't imagine the horror of going into to check on a child and finding one dead.
12 posted on 03/03/2003 8:13:29 AM PST by freeper12
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To: RCW2001
This is definitely uncommon... just ask your doctor. Damn, I know they don't want to cause a mass panic, but why don't they just come out and be honest? What about "West Nile"?
It spread so fast, too fast to be naturally communicated amongst the animal kingdom... I hope that we learn more, and begin quarentines to save our people. It is common sense. God bless all.
13 posted on 03/03/2003 8:20:46 AM PST by Terridan
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To: ElisabethInCincy
Same here with my two-and-a-half year old. First the stomach flu, throwing up all night, then a flu with high fever. She's better now, and I'm glad I didn't read this two weeks ago, when she was going through round two of flu-like symptoms. I was worried enough. Reading this would have had me terrified.

The worst is that when your kids get sick, you worry, naturally, but everyone tells you not to be too concerned because kids get sick all the time. Especially during the winter months, they catch all kinds of illnesses from each other. So you try not to make too much of it...and then you hear about kids dying!

I didn't think that in this day and age the flu could kill someone unless they had an otherwise weakened immune system. It does make me wonder whether these kids had undiagnosed problems (heart conditions, perhaps) which made them more susceptible, which the media overlooked or hasn't disclosed. (You know how the media loves to incite panic.)

In any case, it's really quite scary.

14 posted on 03/03/2003 8:49:10 AM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: MarMema
Odd,,something is awry.
15 posted on 03/03/2003 8:52:18 AM PST by cajungirl
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To: RCW2001
I've also heard about a cluster of children dying apparently from flu in New York in the last month or so (no link, sorry).
16 posted on 03/03/2003 8:54:32 AM PST by LPStar
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To: cajungirl
wonder if they are getting an overwhelming encephalitis,,no work on autopsy? A kid died in Austin, age 10, unexpectedly last week,,I know cause he was in my grandson's school. They said Addisons but had not been diagnosed prior to death.
17 posted on 03/03/2003 8:54:53 AM PST by cajungirl
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To: RCW2001
Maria C. Carter, 2, of Portsmouth, may have suffered from an infection that moved to her heart, medical examiners said after an autopsy.

This happened to friends of ours a couple of years ago. Their three year old girl had a cold. Nothing unusual. Then it got worse. Went to a doctor. Don't know what, if anything, he prescribed, but nothing major was suspected yet. A day or two later, she was a lot worse. They went to the emergency room. The girl was hospitalized but died about 36 hours later. "A cold that went to the heart" was the explanation given.

Meanwhile, our little one routinely spiked fevers of 104 and 105 at that age. She's not been in that range lately, however.

We have come to take good health for granted. Once in awhile, we get a reminder that the bugs are still out there ....

18 posted on 03/03/2003 9:04:37 AM PST by sphinx
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To: MarMema
Let's not forget the 5 in Virginia, and the women in E. Texas in November. One was 17 and the other 2 were in their early 40's.
19 posted on 03/03/2003 9:24:15 AM PST by TheLurkerX ("When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." Hunter S. Thompson)
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To: apackof2
Did you see this today?
20 posted on 03/03/2003 3:35:00 PM PST by exnavy
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