Garza Funeral Home/Ultrashots/AP Relatives are mourning the death of Judy Trunnel, 33, a schoolteacher and new mother from Texas whose death marked the first of a U.S. resident of the new swine flu strain. A Texas health official says Trunnel had chronic, underlying health conditions.
In Maryland, her cousin told WMAR-TV in Baltimore that Trunnell had died after spending two weeks in the hospital. She slipped into a coma, and her baby was delivered by Cesarean section, Mario Zamora said.
"She was just a beautiful person, warm at heart. She worked with disabled children as a teacher," Zamora said. "Those that knew her will always remember her."
Texas health officials stopped short of saying that swine flu caused Trunnell's death. State health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said the schoolteacher had "chronic underlying health conditions" but wouldn't give any more details.
She died early Tuesday after being hospitalized since April 19, said Leonel Lopez, Cameron County epidemiologist.
The only other swine flu death in the United States was that of a Mexico City toddler who also had other health problems and had been visiting relatives in Brownsville, Texas, near Harlingen. He died last week at a Houston children's hospital.
There have been 29 other confirmed swine flu deaths, all in Mexico. Hundreds of cases of the disease have been confirmed in several countries, but mostly in Mexico and the U.S.
Trunnell was from Harlingen, a city of about 63,000 near the U.S.-Mexico border, and taught in the Mercedes Independent School District about 15 miles west of her hometown.
She was first seen by a physician April 14 and was hospitalized on the April 19. Zamora said she had complained of difficulty breathing and was put on life support.
Doctors knew she had a flu when she came in, but did not know what kind, Lopez said. The area is undergoing a Type A influenza epidemic right now, and swine flu is one variety of that, he said. She was confirmed to have swine flu shortly before she died, he said.
Dr. Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health's Brownsville campus, said the woman was extremely ill when she was hospitalized.
Mercedes school district officials announced that it would close its schools for the rest of the week and reopen Monday.
U.S. health officials changed course on their advice to schools Tuesday, saying they are no longer recommending that schools close for the swine flu. Last week, the government had advised schools to shut down for about two weeks if there were suspected cases of swine flu.
"We no longer feel that school closure is warranted," said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Texas school teacher is first United States citizen death from swine flu
Posted by AlbertaTalks
on May 5th, 2009
Texas health officials have confirmed the first swine flu death of a United States citizen, a 33-year-old school teacher who had recently given birth.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said the woman had “chronic underlying health conditions,” but no specifics were offered.
© Janet Crain
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