Children and teens account for nearly half of all avian flu deaths worldwide to date, but the U.S.which hasn't seen any bird flu deaths is lacking in efforts to prepare for treating children during a possible pandemic flu outbreak, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Trust for Americas Health. The reportPandemic Influenza: Warning, Children At-Risksaid there have been 329 laboratory-confirmed human cases and 201 deaths caused by the H5N1 virus, known as the avian or bird flu virus, resulting in a mortality rate of 61%. Children and teens accounted for 46% of those deaths.
One major area of concern is the amount of antivirals available for children. In the U.S., there are currently about 100,000 courses of antivirals for children in the Strategic National Stockpile, but there are 73.6 million children and adolescents living in the U.S. today, according to the report. Clearly, my guess is that most hospitals are assuming they can turn to the Strategic National Stockpile. When it comes to antivirals for kids, thats not going to be the case, said Jeff Levi, executive director at the Trust for Americas Health, a Washington-based not-for-profit organization focused on making disease prevention a national priority. That raises questions about what one might want to stockpile independently.
Emphasizing that children are not small adults, the report also noted that neither of the two antiviral drugs that have shown to be effective against H5N1 are licensed for children younger than 1 year old. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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