1st U.S. Swine Flu Death Reported

The acting head of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has been predicting swine flu deaths in the U.S. — and says the news from Texas is “very, very sad.'' Dr. Richard Besser made the rounds of the morning talk shows and confirmed that a 23-month-old child in Texas has died from the virus.

It's the first known death in the U.S. Besser says he doesn't think the death indicates any change in the flu strain. He also added that “it's very important that people take their concern and channel it into action.'' Sixty-six infections had been reported in the United States before the report of the toddler's death in Texas.

The world has no vaccine to prevent infection but U.S. health officials aim to have a key ingredient for one ready in early May, the big step that vaccine manufacturers are awaiting. An actual vaccine could be months away. ^  

The president said Wednesday morning that Americans “should know'' the government is doing all that it can to contain the emerging health menace. Giving a flu update at an event welcoming Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, Obama also said he wanted to convey “my thoughts and prayers'' to the family of a 23-month-old child in Texas who has died from the flu. As for the schools, he said that closures in some instances may be necessary, especially in cases of confirmed infections.

Obama said it is the recommendation of public health officials “that schools with confirmed cases … should consider closing if the situation becomes more serious.''