ANCHORAGE, Alaska – State health officials have confirmed that a 10-year-old Fairbanks boy who died over the weekend tested positive for swine flu.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the child's case is the second confirmed swine flu death for Alaska. A woman from Fairbanks who had underlying health problems was the first; she died in July in Washington state.
And, health officials are awaiting test results to determine whether an 11-month-old baby who died last week in Anchorage had swine flu.
The Anchorage baby, who had other medical problems, was hospitalized for much of July and tested positive for H1N1, Dr. Beth Funk, state Public Health epidemiologist said, Sunday.
The baby recovered well enough to go home, but then fell ill again, returned to the hospital and died there. The baby tested negative for H1N1 during the second hospital admission, but Funk said later that false negative readings are common with the rapid test and health officials are still awaiting results of a definitive viral culture.
The 10-year-old left school early Thursday with flu symptoms and was later hospitalized in Fairbanks. He was rushed to an Anchorage hospital when he didn't show signs of improvement, but he died Friday night.
No one else in his family is ill, officials said.
The boy had been healthy, and his quick decline concerns professionals. They are checking whether an opportunistic bacterial infection may have invaded his flu-weakened system.
School officials say they are being vigilant in guarding against the spread of swine flu, but there are no plans to close any schools in Fairbanks.
A second child from Fairbanks was hospitalized last week in Anchorage with swine flu but is recovering, said Dr. Dick Mandsager, chief executive of Providence Alaska Medical Center.
School officials say they are being vigilant in guarding against the spread of swine flu by encouraging hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers, and by asking staff and students to stay home if they are ill.
Nancy Wagner, superintendent of Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, said school nurses were meeting Labor Day to discuss swine flu issues.
The swine flu vaccine is expected to arrive in Alaska in October with perhaps 35,000 doses to start, health officials said. Priority groups for the vaccine include health care workers, pregnant women, children from ages six months to 18 years, young adults and adults with medical problems.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com