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Fatal Stroke Linked To Influenza Infection of Pennsylvania Child

Recombinomics Commentary 06:35
May 12, 2011

Regina began breathing rapidly after developing a fever the night before, and her parents took her to the emergency room at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Hospital Campus. Kathy Sweeney said the doctors noticed her daughter's lungs weren't working properly and recommended Regina be taken to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Eventually doctors determined Regina had influenza, which led to a staph infection in her lungs. She's hooked up to a blood bypass machine and a ventilator. She has had surgery to remove blood clots in her left lung, is on blood thinners and at one point had four chest tubes. Regina's mother said she is weak on her left side, so doctors are unsure whether she might have suffered a stroke.

The above comments described a fatal influenza case (11F) in Pennsylvania.  A family friend, who is an MD, posted “The doctors still have not told the family which strain of "influenza" was involved. She had necrotizing pneumonia and also likely suffered a stroke on the way to Pittsburgh.”

Although the serotype wasn’t given, Pennsylvania leads the country in influenza deaths (or at least did a month ago when the state stopped releasing weekly reports), and has two of the eight released sequences which are closely related to the Chihuahua sub-clade in Ecuador, Mexico, and Venezuela that precipitated the WHO 2011 pandemic alert.  Anecdotal reports indicated the first case, linked to A/Pennsylvania/02/2011, was also fatal.

The death following a stroke is remarkably similar to the “mystery virus” and the fatal case (36F) of the pregnant patient in South Korea, which also infected seven other patients in South Korea.  An announcement on the “mystery virus” is expected later today, but the reports of a stroke following and influenza-like illness which included breathing difficulties and pulmonary fibrosis raises concerns that a novel H1N1 like the Chihuahua sub-clade is causing severe disease in an expanding population in a widening geographic area.

Sequence data on the “mystery virus” in South Korea would be useful, as would sequence data on the influenza linked to the recent Pennsylvania fatality.

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