Leading U.S. Epilepsy Organizations Unite on H1N1 Virus “swine flu” Public Health Recommendations for Children with Epilepsy

AES, CURE, Epilepsy Foundation, Epilepsy Therapy Project and FACES Support Public Awareness of H1N1 Virus Risks in Response to New CDC Data for Children with Epilepsy

West Hartford, CT, Chicago, IL, Washington, D.C., Middleburg, VA, Boston, MA, New York, NY, September 9, 2009 — AES, CURE, Epilepsy Foundation, Epilepsy Therapy Project and FACES today announced their support for increased public awareness of H1N1 Virus (“Swine Flu”) risks for young children with epilepsy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta reports that 477 people in the US have died from H1N1 influenza (flu), including 36 children, as of August 8th, 2009. Nearly 70 percent of these children had chronic high-risk medical conditions such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy or developmental delay, according to data published in the September 4, 2009 edition of MMWR News (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5834a1.htm).

“These findings emphasize the importance of caretakers of children with chronic medical conditions consulting their physicians about obtaining vaccinations against H1N1 before the vaccine becomes available, currently estimated to be in October of 2009. Today, an estimated 300,000 children under the age of 14 have epilepsy in the United States,” said Robert S. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of epilepsy.com, which is dedicated to furthering the mission of Epilepsy Therapy Project.

H1N1 flu is contagious for up to a week and can be spread from person to person. Flu typically causes symptoms of fever, chills, muscle/joint aches, headaches, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, cough and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea. The large majority of children with these symptoms will not have H1N1 swine flu. Most H1N1 cases are mild and improve on their own. But children who have these symptoms and are at high risk, such as those with epilepsy, should be evaluated by their physician. A blood test can verify whether H1N1 flu is present. Treatment with Tamiflu or other therapies may shorten the illness.

Epilepsy experts speaking on behalf of the Epilepsy Therapy Project, CURE, FACES, AES and the Epilepsy Foundation suggest that certain behaviors can help to avoid catching or spreading viruses. Cover your nose or mouth when you sneeze. Use a tissue and throw it away. Wash your hands often, especially after sneezing. Avoid close contact with someone who is sick from a virus. Stay home until your fever is gone for at least a day. When the time comes, follow the government’s recommendations on who should receive the H1N1 and regular flu vaccinations. The fear that vaccinations lead to autism is not backed up by scientific studies. Vaccines do sometimes cause side effects, but the risk must be balanced against the known risks of catching flu. CDC, the FDA and others will detail the side effects and risks of the vaccines now under development when they become known.

For further information on HINI Virus and Children with Epilepsy, contact:
Joyce A. Cramer
Epilepsy.com and President, Epilepsy Therapy Project

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