Girl, 10, dies of complications from swine flu

A Harlem girl died Saturday of the novel influenza A H1N1 virus.

Summer Rockefeller, 10, died of complications associated with the virus while being treated at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said.

No other local H1N1 deaths have been confirmed by officials.

Euchee Creek Elementary Principal Wanda Golosky said Summer, a fifth-grader at the school, suffered multiple complications from her illness.

The Augusta Chronicle was unable to obtain Summer's medical history Monday to determine whether she had any conditions that would put her at greater risk from the virus. Efforts to reach the family also were unsuccessful. However, Ms. Golosky said the new student wasn't "prone to running in and out of the (school) nurse's office."

Summer initially was treated at the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center but was transferred to Egleston, Mr. Collins said.

There, Summer underwent four surgeries and spent two months in intensive care, according to Roxanne Whitaker, a Columbia County school board member.

Members of Harlem Baptist Church will hold a spaghetti supper Nov. 5 at the church to help Summer's family defray some of her medical expenses.

"Their medical bill, I've been told, is over $3 million," Mrs. Whitaker said.

During that time, her parents, Brian and Elizabeth Anderson Rockefeller, remained in the Atlanta area, Mrs. Whitaker said.

"They have lost their home and everything else due to them losing their jobs and having no money to pay the bills," Mrs. Whitaker said.

Though the school isn't planning the fundraiser, teachers took up a collection for the family about two weeks ago, Ms. Golosky said.

The funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday in the chapel of Chance and Hydrick Funeral Directors, 2502 Richmond Hill Road, Augusta. Visitation will be at the funeral home from 6 to 8 p.m. today.

Though Summer died in Atlanta, new state protocols require that the coroner from the home county of the deceased child be notified. Mr. Collins said an Egleston nurse informed him of the death last week but that he had not received a death summary sheet from the hospital as of Monday afternoon.

Mr. Collins said it was the first novel H1N1-related death his office has dealt with.

Columbia County Health Department Nurse Manager Linda Graves said her district office in Augusta would keep track of any H1N1 fatalities in the area, but the office was closed Monday for Columbus Day.

Since the swine flu outbreak began in Georgia during the spring, there have been 489 hospitalizations and 23 deaths in the state as of Oct. 6, according to the Georgia Division of Public Health. At least two have involved children.

As of Oct. 3, 37 states, including Georgia and South Carolina, are reporting widespread flu cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 19 pediatric flu-related deaths reported Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, 16 were confirmed novel H1N1 cases and three were considered likely.

Staff Writer Tom Corwin contributed to this report.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

H1N1 VACCINE

Vaccine against novel influenza A H1N1 is rolling out slowly as batches become available, and the first roughly 6 million are nasal preparations approved only for healthy people ages 2 to 49.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that they will hold a vaccine update today and had hoped to learn this week about the availability of shots. Vaccine availability will be updated on a weekly basis by CDC as lots become available and states are allowed to order more.

The CDC's distributor, McKesson Co., will ship some lots directly to providers who order 100 shots or more, and others will get theirs through the health department. The Georgia Division of Public Health said it will provide a list of private providers on its Web site.