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Baby girl tests positive for H1N1 type-A flu twice

All Headlines 15:50 November 26, 2009

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- Local health authorities said Thursday that a two-year-old baby girl tested positive for the H1N1 Influenza-A strain flu twice in two months, making it the first such case reported in the country.

The baby, admitted to a hospital in the southeastern city of Gimhae, has been confirmed to have caught the flu that has killed 104 people in the country since mid-August.

The confirmation was made by Green Cross Reference Laboratory that tests samples provided by local clinics and hospitals.

Doctors who treated the girl said she had a temperature reaching 39.1 C and showed respiratory-related symptoms that are commonly associated with the new strain of the flu. They added that her symptoms were mild overall.

The same girl was treated with anti-viral drugs for H1N1 flu in September when her temperature reached 38.3 C.

"Initially, experts were skeptical about a person getting the flu twice and asked a state-run health center in Gimhae to screen the samples again, although this test again came back positive for the H1N1 strain," a hospital source said.

He said that samples taken from the baby girl will be sent to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to check its genetic sequence that could help determine if it is a mutated strain of the new flu.

In ordinary instances a person that gets the flu will develop immunity to the virus, with such people requiring no vaccination for future protection.

But he also said that because no re-checking of the first sample was made, there is a chance that the girl did not contract the new type-A flu two months ago.

Others countered that as seen in a case in the United States, there is a possibility of the baby's immune system not building up complete immunity after the first infection.

"It is not impossible for a person to get the H1N1 flu twice," Kim Woo-joo, a doctor at the Korea University Medical Center said.

He pointed out in the Gimhae case, doctors had moved quickly to administer anti-viral drugs to the baby girl who probably does not have a fully developed immune system the first time. The doctor said that in such a case the girl's body may have not had time to build up its own defenses.

In the United States, Debra Parsons, a pediatrician in West Virginia, tested positive for the H1N1 flu twice. She suffered from flu symptoms in August and again in October, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention making the definitive confirmation on both cases.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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