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H3N2 California/7 Illinois Student Flu Fatalities?

Recombinomics Commentary
February 26, 2005

>>  The viral attack came with little warning.

"She had a viral infection that attacked the heart," Delaney's mother said. "I had seen her on Sunday. We had gone out to eat. ... We were planning for my birthday. She said she wasn't feeling well. She had thought she had come down with Pete's [Sereika's] flu." Sereika had caught a bug the weekend before Delaney's death.

On Friday morning, Delaney began seizing and woke Sereika.

"There wasn't anything leading up to it," Sereika said. "[She had a] little bit of a tooth ache."

"Friday morning, she was taking really deep breaths. She was really stiff. Her leg kicked the night stand."

Delaney was taken by ambulance to Kishwaukee Hospital where doctors performed CPR for 70 minutes. When her heart started again, she was air-lifted to the OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford. Her heart stopped again and doctors pronounced her dead shortly after 4 p.m…….

Tyler came home Wednesday morning from Bower Elementary School in Warrenville with symptoms of a cold, said his father, Eric Pape. He said he had a headache and went to take a nap. But Tyler's mother, Jennifer, couldn't wake him for dinner.

Tyler was taken to Edward Hospital in Naperville, then flown to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Eric Pape said. Tyler died Friday.

"It was just fast, and there was no reason for it that anybody can put their finger on," Eric Pape said Monday. <<

The two Illinois student cases at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and Bower Elementary School in Warrenville were similar to the sudden deaths of students in Eastern Pennslyvania and soldiers in North Carolina. The patients develop flu-like symptoms and within a day or two they are dead. 

Bacterial meningococcemia and viral myocarditis are common complications of influenza.  The cases above coincide with the rapid spread of A/California/7/2004.  In the US it has accounted for 100% of antigenically characterized influenza A in the past two reporting periods. 

It is spreading across Canada, infecting immunized nurses, and is showing up across the globe. 

There have been meningococcemia / meningitis outbreaks in the Philippines, meningitis in China, and myocarditis in Sri Lanka.

The H3N2 strains have been evolving rapidly, keeping one step ahead of the vaccine.  Recent data show that the most evolved isolates were from Wisconsin in 2004 and Iceland in 2005.  The Wisconsin strain may be related to the students' deaths west of Chicago.

The co-circulation of highly virulent human H3N2 California and fatal avian H5N1 Vietnam is cause for concern.

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