A 10-YEAR-OLD Huddersfield girl with special needs has died after contracting swine flu.
The tragic youngster was a pupil at Newsome’s Castle Hill School for children with severe and complex learning disabilities.
It is understood she had serious underlying health problems and had been in hospital for several weeks.
The girl’s parents were too upset to speak to the Examiner following their tragic loss, but headteacher Gill Robinson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are very much with the family at this extremely difficult time.”
It is understood the pupil had suffered respiratory problems from birth and died from a cardiac arrest after battling flu-like symptoms.
She is the second young girl in Kirklees to die after catching swine flu.
Now, an emergency vaccination programme is under way at the school to protect vulnerable pupils and key workers.
The fast response has been organised to ensure all the children – already identified as being at an increased risk from swine flu because of their health conditions – are quickly vaccinated for their own protection.
The spokesman added: “Swine flu is circulating at Castle Hill School and a vaccination programme is now underway to provide protection to these very vulnerable pupils with complex health needs.
“The Health Protection Agency has recommended that pupils in the school who meet the already defined priority groups for vaccination should be offered vaccine at the school to ensure that they are receiving it as early as possible.
“This work is now being done by healthcare professionals from NHS Kirklees after consent from parents and carers.”
Parents were informed about the pupil’s sudden death in a letter from the headteacher this week.
They were also sent information from the Health Protection Agency detailing why their child should receive the swine flu vaccine.
The advice for special schools stated: “There is emerging evidence that children and adults with certain chronic neurological conditions including cerebral palsy, are at greater risk of hospitalisation and complications.
“The prevalence of a chronic neurological condition in people with confirmed H1N1 who died was 40 times higher than those with no risk factors.”
Castle Hill school closed a few days before the end of the summer term after an outbreak of the disease.
In July eight-year-old Asmaa Hussain was one of the first people in the country with swine flu to die after choking when she had a fit on the sofa of her home in Dewsbury.
An inquest recorded a verdict of natural causes on the youngster who was pupil at Thornhill Junior and Infant School in Dewsbury.
Coroner Roger Whittaker said: “She died of inhalation of gastric content during an epileptic fit.
“The swine flu infection may have triggered the fit, but the swine flu itself would not have caused her death.”
Her father, 33-year-old Mehrban Hussain, died of acute pancreatitis just two months before his daughter’s sudden death.
Six people who had swine flu have now died in Yorkshire – three in Kirklees. The other local death was Abdullah Patel, 42, of Dewsbury. He worked at the Institute of Islamic Education in Dewsbury.
An NHS Kirklees spokesman said of the latest death: “We can confirm that a person has sadly died in the Kirklees area.
“Swine flu has been confirmed as a contributing factor to the cause of death. The individual also had serious underlying health issues.
“This is a tragic case and our thoughts are with the family at this time.”
But NHS Kirklees urged the majority of people to remain calm.
The spokesman added: “Our advice remains the same. For most people this is a mild illness and they should start to feel better after a few days without needing to visit their GP or go to A&E.
“If you are concerned and want advice you should stay at home and contact the National Pandemic Flu Service by calling 0800 1 513 100 or 0800 1 513 200 (Textphone) or going online to www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu.”
People were advised to contact their GP directly if they have a serious underlying illness that weakens the immune system, they are pregnant, have a sick child under the age of one, their condition suddenly gets much worse, or their condition is still getting worse after seven days or five for a child.