Boy, 16, dies after contracting H1N1

October 16, 2009 4:04:23 PM PDT
A Houston family is in shock and in mourning after a 16-year-old boy lost a battle with swine flu. It's the 12th swine flu death in the Houston area and it comes at a time when health officials are expressing growing concern about what the swine flu is capable of. [SWINE FLU: Symptoms, questions and answers and more]

Some parents are concerned, especially the ones who just found out about this death within the last couple of days.

Most of the parents with whome we spoke Friday believe that the school district is acting appropriately by keeping the school open, but the victim's own family is re-examining the precautions all schools are taken

"We all have different emotions. Some of us cry out. Some of us cry inside," said the teen's uncle, Robert Sepulveda.

It has been a painful week for Sepulveda just two days after his nephew, Jose, passed away from swine flu. The questions don't seem to end.

"We, like everything else, you know, we had questions what happened, what's going on," he said.

Jose Sepulveda first began showing symptoms last month. The Dobie High School junior who had a history of asthma was eventually admitted into the hospital, although doctors tried to treat the virus. His condition only worsened.

"He had some underlying issues and unfortunately, he became ill before the vaccine was available in our area," said Kathy Barton with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

News of the death spread quickly around Dobie Friday, where some students worried about their exposure.

"That is kind of scary to know that someone has swine flu and passed away from it," said student Sonya Nguyen.

District officials, however, were quick to point out that Jose had not been in school since September. That, along with the CDC's recommendation not to immediately close schools is the reason classes continue

Officials did, however, reassure parents they are being vigilant.

"Our custodians are taking measures to go through and sanitize common areas, door knobs and things students handle quite often," said Candace Ahlfinger with the Pasadena Independent School District.

For Robert Sepulveda, a principal at a high school in El Paso, he now has his own thoughts on the issues.

"I know that the CDC has said it's not that important to close the schools, but I believe that one life is very important," he said.

The district is sending automated phone messages to parents, informing them of the death. Counselors will be on hand at the school on Monday to help the kids cope with the student's death.

Jose Sepulveda will be mourned by his family on Sunday. We are told that he will be flown back to El Paso where he was born.

The city of Houston is tracking local swine flu deaths on its website.

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