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H1N1 Can Cause Neurologic Complications in Children

As with seasonal influenza, the novel virus can lead to seizures

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- H1N1 influenza can lead to neurologic complications in children, according to a study published in the July 24 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A.S. Evans, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues report that four patients aged between 7 and 17 years were admitted to hospitals in Dallas County with signs of influenza-like illness, as well as altered mental status or seizures, and all four tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

In the affected patients, the virus was detected in nasopharyngeal specimens but not in cerebrospinal fluid; three of the patients had abnormal electroencephalogram results, the investigators explained. All four patients were treated with antiviral drugs and fully recovered with no neurologic symptoms upon discharge, the researchers note.

"These findings indicate that, as with seasonal influenza, neurologic complications can occur after respiratory tract infection with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus," the authors write. "For children who have influenza-like illness accompanied by unexplained seizures or mental status changes, clinicians should consider acute seasonal influenza or novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the differential diagnosis, send respiratory specimens for appropriate diagnostic testing, and promptly initiate empirical antiviral treatment, especially in hospitalized patients."

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