Health advice has been issued to parents across the country after a young child died following what is believed to be a swine flu outbreak at a nursery.
The tragedy in Northamptonshire follows confirmation yesterday that several people are being treated for swine flu at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
Public Health England has stressed that no cause of death of the Corby youngster has yet been confirmed, although the child did test positive for group A strep infection and flu.
Parents of children at the nurseryare believed to have been informed. It is thought there have been at least three cases there.
Swine flu, sometimes known as H1N1, has been officially classified as one of three types of seasonal flu since 2011 and is common throughout the world.
Symptoms are usually fairly mild and rarely result in death, although the disease is more dangerous to children under the age of two.
The child who died was also found to have an invasive group A streptococcal infection – one of a group of serious bacterial infections that can include pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis.
A Public Health England spokesman said: “PHE East Midlands has been notified of the death of a child from Corby.
“Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.
“The child has tested positive for invasive group A streptococcal infection (IGAS) and seasonal flu, but it is important to note that the cause of death has yet to be determined.
“PHE has sent letters to close contacts of the case advising them of the situation.”
One concerned parent from Corby said their one-year-old child had contracted the disease several weeks ago, but it was not diagnosed as swine flu for some time.
The parent said: “He’s been ill since the beginning of February.
“We were very worried about him and had taken him to the urgent care centre but we just thought he had a bad cold that wasn’t shifting.
“He had swollen tonsils and a runny nose and we just couldn’t get his temperature down.
“We had taken him to the urgent care centre but no-one really seemed to know what was wrong so we went to A&E.
“They ran some tests and it was confirmed as swine flu and we were taken to a separate room for treatment. He was given Tamiflu.
“They said it’s actually quite common. “We didn’t have any idea of the symptoms so we really think other parents should be aware of what to look out for.”
It is believed that children in other schools in Corby have also experienced the symptoms of swine flu, although no one from Kettering General Hospital was available yesterday to give precise figures.
Symptoms of swine flu to look out for:
A sudden fever with a temperature of 38C or above
Aching muscles or joint pain
A runny or blocked nose
How to avoid it:
The H1N1pdm09 virus is spread in exactly the same way as the common cold and other flu viruses.
It is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone coughs or sneezes.
These droplets typically spread about 1 metre (3 feet). They hang suspended in the air for a while, but then land on surfaces, where the virus can survive for up to 24 hours.
Anyone who touches these surfaces can spread the virus by touching anything else. The virus is also transmitted by infected people who cough or sneeze into their hands and then touch other people or objects before washing their hands.
Everyday items at home and in public places may have traces of the virus. These include food, door handles, remote controls, hand rails, paper money and computer keyboards.
Good hygiene, such as hand washing and cleaning, is the most effective way of slowing the spread of flu. Antiviral medication and the seasonal flu jab are also offered to people at risk.
How to treat it:
The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.
If further treatment is needed or complications develop, antiviral medications including Tamiflu and Relenza are available to treat flu caused by the H1N1pdm09 virus.
If you are otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to visit your GP if you have flu-like symptoms. Those who should seek help are:
children under two years old
anyone over the age of 65
children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
children and adults with weakened immune systems
The seasonal flu jab is available for free on the NHS for those at risk and is given as an annual injection to:
adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone over 65)
children aged from six months to two years who are at risk of flu
The flu vaccine is also offered as an annual nasal spray to:
children aged 2 to 18 years at risk of flu
children aged two, three and four
all children in school years 1 and 2