Child’s death attributed to respiratory infection

MILL VALLEY – A viral infection has been blamed for the death of a 5-year-old boy whose parents found him unresponsive in their Mill Valley home on March 4.

Though the child’s parents were in the house, they were not present in the room at the moment their son succumbed to the illness. As a result, the Coroner Division of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office performed an autopsy to ascertain the cause of death, which is standard procedure whenever a child dies and no adult directly witnesses the event.

“The child was transported from a residence to the hospital,” said Sgt. Keith Boyd, the department’s assistant chief deputy coroner.

Despite “advanced life support measures attempted in the hospital,” doctors were unable to revive him, Boyd added.

The Coroner Division has released the results of the autopsy, which analyzed forensic evidence, tissue samples, toxicology and cell cultures. The investigation ruled the cause of death to be an “acute respiratory infection of viral etiology.”  The victim was found to be carrying the H1N1 strain of Influenza A, one of a family of viruses sometimes referred to as swine flu.

Despite the flu diagnosis, the Coroner Division is not yet certain whether H1N1 was responsible for the respiratory infection that claimed the boy’s life. It is possible that the child was carrying another virus, as yet undetected, which could have been the source of the fatal ailment. In addition, the autopsy revealed that the young boy had cardiac hypertrophy, an enlargement of the heart that can be brought on by a variety of different health problems. The final determination will be made based on the results of further testing, which will be available within the next six weeks.

An official from the Mill Valley School District was quoted as saying that attendance rates at the victim’s school have not dipped. Parents of the victim’s classmates are aware that the boy suffered from H1N1, according to news reports, but have not kept their kids away from school due to concerns about the virus spreading.

Vaccination can prevent H1N1 infection in 70-90 percent of cases, but the school the boy attended does not require that students receive the vaccine in order to enroll. Health officials have not disclosed whether the victim had received the vaccine.


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