04/11/2010

Special Needs Child Is Swine Flu Victim

A child diagnosed with swine flu in Northern Ireland just over a week ago has now died.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has confirmed that the victim was a pupil at Ceara School in Lurgan, which is a special school for children with severe learning disabilities.

It has emerged that the family would have been made aware of swine flu (the H1N1 virus) and offered the vaccine as the return of the virus was fully expected.

It has been assumed that it would be circulating again as part of the normal winter flu outbreak and the seasonal flu jabs being given by GPs at the moment already incorporates this strain.

The child was one of two people diagnosed with the virus in Northern Ireland last week; the other case, involving a man, was not linked.
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The PHA is recommending that all special school pupils have the flu vaccine this year, even if they had the swine flu vaccine last year after 20 people from Northern Ireland died in last year's swine flu outbreak, including a number of children with severe learning difficulties.

A PHA spokeswoman said: "The PHA can confirm that a child with confirmed flu infection, who attended a school for children with special needs, has sadly passed away.

"The PHA would like to extend its deepest sympathy to the family of this child. This death is a reminder that flu infection can cause serious complications, and indeed death, in those with certain underlying medical conditions."

She said that children who attend schools for those with severe learning difficulties should receive flu vaccines this year and the PHA has written to their parents and all GPs asking for them to be immunised as soon as possible. This year's vaccine protects against three strains of flu, including H1N1 flu.

(BMcC/GK)

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