New details in fatal swine flu case

April 30, 2009 5:56:05 PM PDT
We're learning new information about where the toddler who died in Houston from the swine flu visited before his death. [SWINE FLU: Symptoms, questions and answers and more]
[INTERACTIVE MAP: Map and timeline of swine flu cases]
[CHAT TRANSCRIPT: Questions answered by local expert]
[TRAVEL ALERT: What the CDC wants you to know ]

State health officials say the boy was traveling with family to visit relatives. He traveled from Mexico City ity to Matamoros, and arrived in Brownsville April 4. After developing flu-like symptoms, he was hospitalized on April 13 and transferred the next day to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

The boy came to Brownsville's Valley Baptist Medical Center at 1:30am on April 13. He was feverish and having some breathing troubles. Doctors there diagnosed him with pneumonia.

"It didn't seem like too long ago," said Terri Renata with Valley Baptist Medical Center. "But from the vantage point of the April 13 date compared to today, there's a whole world of difference and swine flu wasn't on the radar."

The next day, doctors sent him to Texans Children's Hospital in Houston by helicopter. But we learned Wednesday that would be his second trip in a week.

"There is a three-and-a-half day gap no one is accounting for," said Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos.

Cascos is a friend of the victim's family. He pressed the family for more details on their travel and they told him the boy crossed the border into Brownsville with his family the evening of April 3. On April 5, we're told the extended family drove to Houston. They were in Houston on April 6 and 7 and drove back to Brownsville on April 8.

The boy showed the first signs of illness on that drive to Brownsville and was hospitalized five days later.

"We need to look at the possibility that he may have contracted this somewhere either en route to Houston or in Houston somewhere," said Cascos. "We don't think it was in Brownsville."

The incubation time of the swine flu is believed to be anywhere from one to three days, meaning he could have contracted the illness while in Houston. The Houston Health Department says they don't know of any travel this family may have made and tells us that they asked the family.

Cascos says he got his information from the boy's aunt who was on the trip to Houston with the family. Regardless of where he got it, all of this confusion points to just how difficult it is to pinpoint both the cause and any kind of containment effort.

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