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5-Year-Old Girl Dies Of Swine Flu In San Diego

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Above: KPBS Reporter Tom Fudge explains the flu vaccine and how County Health Department officials are going to work with school districts to vaccinate children at school.

— A 5-year-old kindergartner from Otay Mesa died of swine flu, San Diego County public health officials said Wednesday.

The girl, whose name was withheld, was sick for 48 hours before she went to a hospital Saturday, where she died within an hour, Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

Dr. John Bradley, an infectious diseases specialist at Rady Children's Hospital, said the girl did not have any underlying medical conditions but was much sicker than most patients when she arrived at the emergency room.

She cried, passed out, and her heart stopped, Bradley said. Doctors resuscitated her, but she had a severe infection in her heart, the doctor said.

"Her heart just wasn't going to work anymore," Bradley said. "This was a very tragic occurrence."

Wooten asked parents to keep their children home from school if they have symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Schools and employers should also send home anyone who develops such an illness.

"This is a wakeup call for parents to get their children vaccinated," Wooten said. "We expect and anticipate more deaths will occur, not just H1N1 but seasonal flu."

The girl became the 24th resident of San Diego County to die of the H1N1 flu strain, officials said. Three non-residents have died and 332 people have been hospitalized because of the new strain, which has disproportionately hit younger people.

People with underlying medical conditions who experience flu symptoms should immediately contact their doctor.

The federal Centers for Disease Control says 81 children have died from swine flu in the United States, most with underlying health issues that contributed to the disease.

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