Pediatric Deaths Under Investigation by IDPH
by: Lynda Waddington
Friday (02/29) at 10:53 AM
Iowa parents of young children are being asked by the Iowa Department of Public Health to take extra precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory disease. The suggestions come as the department launches an investigation of a cluster of approximately 20 deaths since December of children under the age of four.
Most of the affected children had mild to severe respiratory symptoms prior to death. Multiple viruses have been isolated in laboratory tests, including influenza A and B, adenoviruses and respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV). However, it is unknown at this time if these viral infections were the principal cause of death. This number of deaths is higher than expected for this time of the year, which is why health officials are investigating.
"Some of the children have died at home, without ever making it to the hospital," said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk in a phone interview Friday. "So, in some cases, this has been a very sudden illness and death. That just makes it more concerning. Right now we really just want to make parents aware of the steps they can take to help protect their children from contracting respiratory viral illnesses."
Quinlisk added that the IDPH is working with other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) in this investigation. Roughly three of the laboratory tests in conjunction with the cases have shown the influenza virus. Several more have shown RSV. Other tests, most of which are done during autospy, have not shown any of the respiratory viral illnesses.
To help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses to young children, the IDPH has recommended the following:
Keep children away from people with respiratory diseases or symptoms.
Keep ill children home from child care or school.
Maintain good hand hygiene when caring for young children.
Wash your hands frequently, especially if you are ill.
Avoid situations where large numbers of people gather, because some may be ill.
Vaccinate all children with the flu vaccine.
Although this year’s vaccine is not a perfect match to the circulating viruses, according to state officials, it still provides some protection against the three strains of influenza virus circulating this year in Iowa.