The H1N1 flu virus claimed the lives of two New Mexico girls this week, including a 5-year-old Rio Rancho Elementary School student and an infant from Roosevelt County, the state Department of Health announced Thursday.
Neither child had chronic medical conditions that would have put them at heightened risk of complications from the illness, health officials said.
Trinity "Trin" Olivares, of Rio Rancho, died Monday evening (sept. 28), just a day after complaining of nausea, said the girl's mother, Danelle Olivares, 31.
Trinity began feeling ill Sunday night and stayed home from school Monday as her nausea and vomiting became more severe, Olivares said. The girl's parents took her to a hospital Monday afternoon, about three hours before her death.
Doctors said the girl was severely dehydrated and put her on intravenous fluids.
"She had no fever, no cough, no runny nose, no symptoms of the flu" other than nausea, Olivares said. The girl also enjoyed good health prior to Sunday night, her mother said.
"She was a very healthy little girl. She never got sick," Olivares said.
Trinity also was keenly aware of discussion and news reports about swine flu and constantly washed her hands and even urged her mother to buy hand sanitizer, Olivares said.
Trinity recently started school at Rio Rancho Elementary after attending Shining Stars Preschool. Her father, Michael Olivares, supervises mail delivery at Rio Rancho Public Schools.
Funeral services were be held Friday, Oct. 2, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Rio Rancho.
The Rio Rancho Public Schools district notified parents by a telephone notification system Thursday evening.
Kim Vesely, district spokeswoman, said the district also planned to send a letter to parents today notifying them about Trinity's death.
Vesely said the New Mexico Department of Health informed the district that the child died of H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, after the department ran a preliminary test.
Chris Minnick, spokesman for the Department of Health, said the Roosevelt County infant died this week, but he did not know what day.
The two deaths bring to seven the number of New Mexicans who have died of swine flu, and 85 have been hospitalized as of Thursday.
A 21-year-old Los Alamos County woman who had no chronic medical conditions is among those who have died. Others include a Sierra County woman, 45; a Bernalillo County woman, 52; a Bernalillo County man, 58; and a McKinley County woman, 48. All four had chronic medical conditions, health officials said.
Dr. Alfredo Vigil, the state's health secretary, called the girl's death tragic and said it highlights the dangers of all types of influenza.
"Even during the normal flu season, people unfortunately develop deadly complications," Vigil said. The death of children from flu is not unusual "given the number of cases," he said.
"It's very hard when it has to do with the death of a child," he said. "When it's a child, it's incredibly tragic."
Vigil said the first doses of swine flu vaccine are expected to arrive soon in New Mexico. About a third of the state's supply of the vaccine is expected to arrive in October; the remainder is expected within the next three months, he said.
"We're expecting vaccine soon, and hopefully in the next week or two, so we can get to work on this," Vigil said. "We haven't been notified about the day of delivery."
In a letter to parents dated Thursday, Rio Rancho Elementary Principal Barbara Bruce described Trinity as "a wonderful, bright child from a wonderful young family. We are heartbroken at their loss and express our condolences to the family."
Reports of flu in public schools have surfaced in the metro area. Almost 100 children were kept home from Moriarty Elementary School last Friday after a warning letter was sent to parents when a few students had a flulike illness. Only about 20 of the students who stayed home reported symptoms.
Also last week, Albuquerque schools saw clusters of flulike illnesses appearing earlier in the season than usual. Sandia High School reported that about 12 percent of its students were absent. The school reported fewer absences this week, a district official said.
"While the death of this child is a tragedy for our schools and community, deaths from the flu are not unexpected in this year or in any year," Bruce said in her letter to parents. "In an average year, 36,000 people worldwide die from complications related to flu.
"Most, but not all, of the people who succumb to this disease have underlying health issues that contribute to its severity. In this respect, the H1N1 flu behaves very much like the regular flu."