During an afternoon news conference, Texas Children’s Hospital officials confirmed it was in their facility where a 23-month-old toddler from Mexico became the first recorded fatality of the swine flu in the United States.
Dr. Jeffrey Starke confirmed much of what was released at an earlier news conference conducted by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, including that the toddler was a Mexico City resident who fell ill during a visit with relatives in Brownsville.
Starke said the child was initially taken to a hospital in Brownsville and then transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital by medical transport on April 14.
“The child was critically ill upon arrival at Texas Children’s Hospital,” Starke said.
Any information about the child’s identity or specific treatment could not be divulged due to privacy laws, Starke said. He also said he could not say whether the child’s body was still at the hospital or if an autopsy was planned or conducted.
He also said the hospital took steps to prevent others from being exposed to the illness, including physicians, nurses and health care providers that cared for the sick child, as well as other hospital patients.
“We are continuing to monitor them as well,” Starke said. “At no time was any other child or person exposed.”
He also stressed there was no need for Houston residents to be concerned about a swine flu outbreak locally, and that the child appeared to have contracted the illness while still in Mexico City.
“We do not think this case should trigger any undue alarm in this community,” Starke said.
During an earlier press conference by the Houston Department of Health, it was reported the child had several underlying health problems, and had traveled with his family from Mexico City to Brownville.
Preliminary investigation information indicated the boy had traveled with his family on a commercial flight from Mexico City to Matamoros, Mexico, on April 4. From Matamoros, they family crossed the border to Brownsville, where the child developed a fever on April 8 followed by other influenza-like symptoms.
The child was admitted to a Brownsville hospital a few days later and then transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital.
Though the illness investigation continues, state health officials said the boy would not have been infectious on the Mexico-to-Matamoros flight and that none of the boy’s known close contacts has subsequently become ill with influenza-like symptoms.
Additionally, the Texas Department of State Health Services has updated the number of confirmed H1N1, or swine flu, cases in Texas.
The total count now stands at 16, with additional cases still awaiting confirmation.