H1N1 spreading quickly; 19 children die in past week - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

H1N1 spreading quickly; 19 children die in past week

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- This past week saw the largest one-week jump in the number of child deaths from H1N1 in 6 months.

The message from the CDC is simple -- more virus, more vaccine, and more treatment.

Like the growing lines of people waiting for the H1N1 vaccine, the virus itself continues to spread. In the US H1N1 is now widespread in 48 states.

"It's a terrible epidemic, and we know that kids are getting sick and parents are getting frustrated, but we're working our way through this problem," Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said.

That includes making more of the H1N1 vaccine available. Last week, just over 16-million doses were shipped. This week, more than 26-million will be available... an increase of more than 10-million doses.

"Children are our top priority, particular children with underlying health conditions," Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said.

Last week, 19 children died of H1N1, bringing the total to 114 nationwide since the virus first appeared back in April. Two-thirds of those children had an underlying medical condition, but it highlights the fact that so far, H1N1 has been a younger person's flu.

The CDC is also releasing its entire national stockpile of pediatric Tamiflu to account for a recent shortage of the liquid and is working with pharmacists nationwide to make even more pediatric Tamiflu from the adult version.

"Once a flu presents, then Tamiflu can reduce the symptoms," Sebelius said. "But, there is no taking it in advance doesn't shield you."

So far, the CDC says that virtually all cases of influenza have been H1N1, which means the virus hasn't changed. Good news for people concerned about the effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine.

"Genetically, the virus has not changed," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said. "It's still closely matched with vaccine. We have not seen mutations that would suggest that it would become more deadly."

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