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First Swine Flu Death Reported in U.S.
Date:4/29/2009

23-month-old boy from Mexico had traveled to Houston for medical treatments, reports say

WEDNESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- A 23-month-old Mexican boy who had traveled to Houston for medical treatment has become the first fatality in the United States in the spreading swine flu outbreak, federal health officials said Wednesday morning.

Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed the death.

"A child has died from the H1N1 virus," he said. "As a parent and a pediatrician, my heart goes out to the family."

The boy was not a U.S. citizen, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, adding she could provide no other details, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that U.S. public health officials were recommending that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu "should strongly consider temporarily closing so that we can be as safe as possible," the Associated Press reported.

At a press briefing Wednesday morning, Besser said there were now 91 confirmed cases of infection with the never-before-seen virus in 10 states, with the one death. Sixty-four percent of the cases involve people under age 18, but patients range in age from 8 to 81, he said.

Border surveillance has been increased to actively look for cases of infection, he said.

Kathleen Sebelius, the new secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), said at the briefing that, "while we still don't know what this virus will do, we expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and, unfortunately, we are likely to see additional deaths from the outbreak."

"Currently, the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and the CDC are developing virus reference strains -- the information that is necessary to develop a vaccine," Sebelius said. "Today, there are a s
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