Found mainly in Asia, the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has resulted in 329 laboratory-confirmed human cases and 201 deathsall outside of the U.S.for a mortality rate of 61%, the report said. Children and teens have accounted for nearly 46% of those fatalities. In the U.S., a country with 73.6 million children and adolescents, currently there are only about 100,000 courses of antiviral medication for children in the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Strategic National Stockpile. Also, neither of the antiviral drugs that have shown to be effective against the deadly virus are licensed for children younger than 1 year old. And while the CDC recommends that the public consider using a particular type of respirator mask in certain circumstances during a pandemic, those masks are not produced in childrens sizes, the report said.
For now, the answer is for healthcare providers to contact their local public health departments, according to Von Roebuck, a CDC spokesman. Whether it be a pandemic or another unusual situation, the hospital, the clinic, the physicians contact the local health department to get a better understanding of what might be happening, Roebuck said.
Bradleya member of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious disease who was consulted on the reportemphasized the need for rapid, point-of-care tests for kids to detect avian flu, given that children are, as he says, the most efficient way to spread it.
The quick test for bird flu and setting up these flu-free zones is probably going to be the most important way to deal with children, but no one is developing them because no one at the high level of government has said, Well buy these tests. Well put them on a FEMA truck or FEMA plane to distribute them to local health departments. That request for such a test and a guarantee for purchase has yet to come out.
On the same day the report was released, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) issued a statement saying she plans to reintroduce legislation with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that will address some issues in the report.