Child dies from swine flu in hospital
Nine or 10 deaths directly from swine flu this winter
A child has died from swine flu in hospital, it was confirmed last night.
The youngster is believed to have lost their fight for life in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin, after being transferred from the west of Ireland in a critical state.
The HSE said the tragedy happened in the last week.
However, the hospital denied claims a number of surgical procedures were cancelled in recent weeks due to staff showing swine flu-like symptoms.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed that the child's death was a result of contracting the H1N1 flu virus.
In an interview on Breakfast on Newstalk, Director for Public Health with the HSE, Dr Kevin Kelleher refused to say that the child was male or female but confirmed that the child was not a "toddler and wasn't a teenager".
There have also been "nine or 10 direct deaths" from swine flu this winter, he said.
However, the doctor confirmed that there were also "indirect deaths". "The flu precipitates something else," Dr Kelleher said "and it wouldn't have happened otherwise and people die as a consequence."
"That is a bigger number and can only be calculated after the flu season."
A spokeswoman for the HSE said "a child, not from the Dublin area, died in the last week in a Dublin Hospital having contracted the flu virus H1N1.
The HSE said there was no cause for alarm. Sadly, a small number of children lose their lives each year because of influenza, it said. Those who have not got a vaccine at this stage are encouraged to do so, as the vaccine covers the virus that is around at the moment.
"The influenza-like illness rates continue to rise and are expected to do so for one to two more weeks," a spokeswoman said.
"If you get the symptoms of flu you should stay at home look after yourself and get in touch with a GP if you think your condition is getting worse."
Nine flu deaths have been reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre so far this season, six of them from the swine flu. The swine flu or H1N1pdm09 virus is spread in exactly the same way as the common cold and other flu viruses.
The virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone coughs or sneezes.
Swine flu is one of a number of strains of flu which is currently circulating, but it can be particularly dangerous for certain groups, including pregnant women.
It was at the centre of a pandemic in 2009 when it claimed a number of lives as there was no vaccine for many months.
However, it is now included in the winter flu jab and at-risk groups are advised to be vaccinated.
Most patients with the flu do not need to be hospitalised, but a pregnant women with swine flu is more likely to be admitted and are at greater chance of serious illness from the strain.
Flu levels generally are currently high and have been contributing to the trolley crisis.
For those concerned about contracting a flu-like illness, there are still around 500,000 flu jabs left.
There were 124 confirmed hospitalised cases of flu in the past week, bringing to 344 the total number of hospitalised cases.