Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"mother of toddler in flu tragedy gives birth to little girl"

barely a week of a reported girl dying of a flu virus in hongkong, came this news that her mother gave birth to a baby girl, in the same hospital. The Standard gives more details below.

"The mother of a three-year-old girl who came down with flu-like symptoms and died five days ago in Tuen Mun Hospital gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the same hospital yesterday.

The baby, weighing about 3.2 kilograms, was born at around noon - just hours after the mother went into labor and was rushed to the hospital.

The Ho family had mixed feelings with the new arrival, as only meters away in another ward, was their six- year-old daughter who was yesterday confirmed to be suffering from the A/H3N2/Brisbane strain of influenza.

The post-mortem to identify the strain which may have killed her sister, Ho Po-yi, was still on-going.

But both virologists and doctors strongly believed she had contracted the same strain as her elder sister, the H3N2 virus, which first surfaced in Hong Kong in 1968.

Speaking on a radio program yesterday, Hong Kong University research center of infection vice president Ho Pak-leung said it was "extremely rare" for completely healthy children to lose their lives due to flu, as only three have had died of the illness in Hong Kong between 2000 and 2005.

"But those children had other underlying health problems," he added.

The three-year-old developed a fever, cough and runny nose and was taken to a private doctor last Friday.

She was taken to Tuen Mun Hospital's emergency department at about 5am on Saturday with a high fever - 40.3 degrees Celsius - and an upper respiratory tract infection.

She died later that day.

Ho Pak-leung said the virus could have attacked other parts of her body to cause severe complications that led to her death. He appealed to both schools and parents to stay alert as Hong Kong has entered into peak flu season due to a longer and colder winter.

He also warned the flu season could drag on into the summer as it did in 2000.

"The situation this year could be more severe than the past couple of years. The peak season is likely to go on for some time," he said.

Ho also warned that those who had received flu jabs might not be adequately protected due to the variations of the strains.

Speaking on another radio program, Chuang Shuk-kwan, consultant doctor (communicable disease) of the Centre for Health Protection, said he could not rule out the possibility the three-year- old girl had contracted the H3N2 virus.

Chinese University clinical virology professor Paul Chan Kay-sheung explained that H3N2 is the most common strain found in humans, with only rare cases being H3N1.

"It would be very alarming if the girl was found to carry strains other than N1 and N2 - which means it is a new strain and can be very virulent, considering that it had killed a patient and caused severe symptoms on another girl," Chan said. "

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