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Pediatric Deaths in Flu-Infested Schools in CO and SC
Recombinomics Commentary 12:29
September 24, 2009

Bryan Pineda, 13, was found unconscious at his home Wednesday and later died at Breckenridge Medical Center.

On Friday he tested positive for Type A flu, and “currently 99 percent of positive Type A flu tests are thought to be 2009 H1N1 (swine) influenza,” according to a joint statement from Summit County Public Health and Coroner Joanne Richardson.

Summit High School principal Drew Adkins said 105 students missed school Tuesday due to illness, with 46 reporting flu symptoms. That's nearly 13 percent of the student body.

Laurence Manning Academy announced Tuesday that the school will close its doors until Monday.

The headmaster of the school told News19 that there are no confirmed cases of Swine Flu. It's estimated that 200 kids missed class Monday, and 280 were out of class Tuesday.

About 1,000 students attend the private school.

Ashley Pipkin was a fifth-grade student at Laurence Manning Academy in Manning. Family members said Pipkin began to feel bad Monday with flu-like symptoms. She took a codeine-based cough medicine and began having trouble breathing Tuesday.

Ashley's family said she was a healthy, active child who played softball.

The above comments describe two pediatric deaths announced yesterday.  One (14M) was a high school student in Colorado who attended a school (see map) with more than 13% of students absent, while the other (11F) attended a school that was closed because over 25% of students were absent (see map).  The level of H1N1 circulating in those schools was likely considerably higher than the absentee rates, because students without fever were likely still attending school.  Fever is in the H1N1 case definition, and most students with swine flu without fever are not tested or sent home from school.

Neither news story suggests the students had underlying conditions and the parents of the elementary student maintain that she was “healthy” and “active” in softball.  These cases are similar to other pediatric cases who played football or soccer days before they died.  These cases were also in areas over-run with swine flu, raising concerns that these schools that remain open when absenteeism exceeds 10% are creating an environment that leads to unnecessary deaths in previously healthy children.

The swine flu levels are misrepresented by local officials with statements of no confirmed swine flu in the area.  The lack of confirmation is linked to a lack of testing.  Most state health departments do not test samples from previously healthy cases without underlying conditions or not hospitalized.  Private physicians also rarely test for H1N1  because it is not flu season, so almost all cases that are influenza A positive are infected with swine flu and expensive confirmatory tests are not ordered.

Similarly, the percentage of students with H1N1 are under-represented because those without fever are not even tested for influenza A.  Moreover, symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are not considered to be flu-like.  Thus, even though more than 11% of the students were absent in the Colorado school district, 5% were said to have flu-like conditions, while the 6% with sore throat and/or gastrointestinal problems, were not classified as “flu-like” even though sore throat and gastrointestinal problems are swine flu symptoms.

Moreover, those who are influenza A positive are frequently described as seasonal or “normal” flu cases, even though state agencies report no seasonal flu cases and the latest weekly CDC report indicates that 97% of samples positive for flu are subsequently confirmed as swine flu.  Similarly, those with a sore throat are said to have strep throat, those with a running nose and headache are said to have allergies or a cold, those with a cough are said to have bronchitis, and those with gastrointestinal problems or vomiting are said to have a “stomach bug”.

Consequently, schools with H1N1 levels as high as 25% are said to have no confirmed H1N1 and/or flu-like conditions in less than 5% of the student population. 

These misrepresentations lead to additional spread within the school district and unnecessary deaths in previously healthy children and adolescents.

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