Confirmation by the nation’s health authorities that A(H1N1) influenza killed the 7-year-old son of well-known TV actor Lee Gwang-gi on Sunday has sent a shock wave across the nation.
Parents are starting to fear their otherwise healthy kids could also fall victim to the latest strain of the flu.
Earlier on Sunday, Lee’s management agency said the child, named Seok-gyu, died of acute pneumonia and blood poisoning.
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The Health Ministry has yet to confirm that Lee’s son carried a specific disease. If the boy is identified as having been healthy before catching the flu, he will be the second child to die of the disease who was not in a high-risk category. So far, nine kids have died of the flu. The first was identified as suffering from cerebral palsy, although health authorities have not put the disease under high-risk classification for the H1N1 influenza.
Analysis of the deaths of the children shows that their conditions rapidly worsened and that they died three to four days after visiting hospitals. Some died while taking Tamiflu.
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Doctors and medical researchers have yet to identify what causes such fast progression of the disease.
Kim Woo-joo, professor of medicine at Korea University’s medical center in Guro, western Seoul, said whereas seasonal flu virus is normally discovered in the upper part of the airway, patients who have died of H1N1 flu or those in serious condition carried the virus in lower parts.
“When the virus fails to be eliminated from the body [due to its location], it could rapidly develop into diseases such as pneumonia, threatening the patient’s life,” he said. “The number of healthy kids dying of H1N1 influenza is on the rise in the United States, too.”
The article also says vaccinations for children aged six months to six years are set to begin next month, though we read last week that children aged 3 to 18 will be vaccinated from tomorrow, the 11th. Lee's son is the ninth child to die of swine flu in Korea. Here's more from the Korea Times:
There was confusion over the sudden death of the seven-year-old. After being initially diagnosed with a cold on Friday afternoon, he didn't take any Tamiflu ― the H1N1 medicine ― and he later died.
Lee received a text message informing him that Seok-kyu had tested positive for the new flu Sunday afternoon. The son had already passed away that morning.
The Chosun Ilbo is your source for funeral porn.