September 3, 2009

CDC: Any healthy child can get H1N1 flu

Any child, even healthy children but especially those with chronic conditions, can become severely ill or even die from H1N1 flu, U.S. health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Thursday says all children age 6 months and older should receive pandemic influenza A (H1N1) -- swine flu -- vaccine when it becomes available. Children with high-risk medical conditions should immediately consult with a healthcare provider if they develop an illness consistent with influenza.

Sixty-seven percent of children who died this spring from H1N1 flu had at least one chronic

high-risk medical condition, the report said. Neurodevelopmental conditions, such as developmental delay, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy were the most frequently noted chronic medical conditions.

However, many children who were older than age 5 and did not have high-risk medical conditions had bacterial infections suggesting that bacteria, in combination with H1N1 influenza, can cause severe disease in children who may be otherwise healthy, the report said.

As of August 8, 477 deaths have been associated with H1N1 virus in the United States.