Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mother loses children to swine flu

Six months ago, Katrina McIntosh had probably never heard of H1N1 flu or swine flu.

Now, the emerging virus has claimed the lives of both the Dearborn County, Ind., woman’s children.

Mindy McIntosh, 26, died Monday at University Hospital from the virus.

Her brother, Matthew, 19, died July 5 of swine flu.

Mindy McIntosh, who worked as a cashier at the Dillsboro, Ind., IGA, had been showing signs of improvement just two weeks ago after spending weeks on a ventilator.

But her condition deteriorated rapidly as the infection took hold. An autopsy will determine how, exactly, she died, her mother said Tuesday.

“She was funny,” Katrina McIntosh said of her daughter. “She was a little shy. She wasn’t as outgoing as Matt. She was very witty. She made friends just instantly.

“She was a good kid,” she said.

The McIntosh family was working on funeral arrangements for Mindy McIntosh on Tuesday.

Visitation was planned for Thursday evening at the family’s church in Greendale, Ind., with the funeral service likely set for Friday.

The siblings, who lived with their parents in rural Dearborn County, fell ill in late June.

Matthew McIntosh, the drummer for a local band, was found unconscious in the family’s barn.

It’s not clear how the two were exposed to H1N1, which emerged in April in Mexico before spreading throughout North America and around the world.

Concern over the risk that H1N1 flu will kill more healthy young adults like the McIntoshes is prompting the rush to develop a vaccine against the emerging flu strain, said Judith Feinberg, a University of Cincinnati infectious disease expert.

Feinberg called the McIntosh deaths “an incredible tragedy. Their loss is just unimaginable.”

Normally, influenza is most dangerous in the very young and the very old, whose immune systems just aren’t strong enough to fight off the infection, Feinberg said.

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