Va. teen suffers rare illness after swine flu shot

A 14-year-old Virginia boy is weak and struggling to walk after coming down with a reported case of Guillain-Barre syndrome within hours after receiving the H1N1 vaccine for swine flu.

Jordan McFarland, a high school athlete from Alexandria, Va., left Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children Tuesday night in a wheelchair nearly a week after developing severe headaches, muscle spasms and weakness in his legs following a swine flu shot. He will likely need the assistance of a walker for four to six weeks, plus extensive physical therapy.

“The doctor said I’ll recover fully, but it’s going to take some time,” the teenager said.

Jordan is among the first people in the nation to report developing the potentially life-threatening muscle disorder after receiving the H1N1 vaccine this fall. His alarming reaction was submitted via’s reader reporting tool, First Person, by his stepmother, Arlene Connin.

Increased cases of GBS were found in patients who received a 1976 swine flu vaccine, but government health officials say they’ve seen no rise in the condition associated with the current outbreak.

So far, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received five reports of GBS in people who received the H1N1 vaccine since Oct. 6, not including Jordan’s case, said Dr. Claudia J. Vellozzi, deputy director for immunization safety.

Out of about 40 million doses of H1N1 vaccine available to date, that’s a far lower rate of GBS than the 1 case that develops in every 1 million people who receive the regular flu vaccine.

“It’s much less than we’d expect,” she said, adding that many cases go unreported.

In 1976, about 1 additional case of GBS developed in every 100,000 people who were vaccinated against the swine flu, according to the CDC.

Jordan’s parents said doctors diagnosed the teen with GBS, a rare muscle disorder that develops when a person’s own immune system attacks the nerves, causing muscle weakness, difficulty walking and sometimes paralysis and death.

Hospital officials didn’t dispute that the boy had GBS, but refused to comment on the boy’s condition or treatment, even after his family granted permission.

“They don’t want to create a fear or panic in the community,” said Jordan’s stepmother, Connin.

Connin and Jordan’s father, Calvin McFarland, both 38, believe the shot sparked the illness that came on 18 hours after the boy’s vaccination.

No clear link
But Vellozzi said there’s no clear link between the new vaccine and the disease.

“We know that GBS and other illnesses occur routinely in the U.S.,” Vellozzi said, noting that 80 to 120 cases are diagnosed each week in the general population.

“There are events that follow vaccination. That’s what they are, they happened to follow vaccination.”



5 thoughts on “Va. teen suffers rare illness after swine flu shot

  1. view voyeur says:

    Here is a link to more flu news:

  2. view voyeur says:

    Maybe not too off topic (it is about Vitamin D).

    Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk

    As regular readers of this column already know, Vitamin D is a very hot molecule in the world of cancer prevention research. While there have been contradictory results among various clinical research studies regarding the proper role of Vitamin D in the prevention of cancer, there is a growing tally of clinical and laboratory research studies suggesting that higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood may be associated with a lower risk of developing certain cancers. Now, another clinical research trial, just published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, adds further weight to the theory that Vitamin D may, in fact, significantly reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

    This study involved 2,465 women who were scheduled for diagnostic mammograms. Blood levels of Vitamin D were measured in these women prior to performing their mammograms. Of these nearly 2,500 women, 142 were subsequently confirmed to have a breast cancer. An additional 420 women participating in this study were matched with the newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in terms of age, menopausal status, and other factors known to play a role in breast cancer risk. (This group of 420 women turned out not to have breast cancer, following their mammograms, and so they served as a “control group” for this prospective clinical research study.)

    As with several previous Vitamin D cancer prevention studies that I have previously reviewed, the results of this study were quite interesting. After analyzing their data, this study’s authors determined that the women with the highest levels of Vitamin D in their blood experienced a 48 percent reduction in the relative risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer when compared to the women with the lowest levels of Vitamin D.

    The evidence for a potential protective effect of Vitamin D against cancer is, arguably, strongest for colon and rectal cancer. However, there is a growing body of research hinting at a potential protective effect for Vitamin D against breast cancer, as well. (As is virtually always the case for disease prevention research, however, there have been several research studies that have failed to identify a cancer prevention benefit for Vitamin D.)

    Clearly, additional research is necessary to ferret out the appropriate role of Vitamin D in cancer prevention, and large prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research (with long term follow-up of patients) will be necessary to resolve the conflicting cancer prevention research data with respect to Vitamin D. Meanwhile, given the stronger data for Vitamin D and colorectal cancer prevention (and for cardiovascular disease prevention, as well), Vitamin D remains, essentially, the only vitamin for which there is at least moderate clinical evidence supporting a potential cancer prevention benefit.

    As always, before starting a new vitamin supplement, or other nutritional supplement, I encourage patients to see their personal physician first.

  3. view voyeur says:

    Canadian hospitals face Swine Flu nightmare, 1,324 admitted

    OTTAWA – Hospitalizations and deaths soared significantly in a one-week period between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7 with 1,324 people admitted to hospitals across Canada and a four-fold increase in fatalities compared to the previous week, the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, reports in its weekly bulletin.

    Included in the national total for this reporting period are 198 children who were admitted. One child died during this period to take the national total of pediatric death since April to five for children under 16.

    Also see: B.C. hospitals filled over capacity.

    “In week 44, 198 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated paediatric hospitalizations and 1 death were reported through the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT) network,” said PHAC.

    “ The new death was a male aged between 5 and 9 years of age with underlying medical conditions,” said the latest report. “861 (child) hospitalizations had been reported since week 17 (April 26); 96.3% of these hospitalizations were due to Pandemic (H1N1) 2009.”

    “Since the beginning of the pandemic, five deaths due to Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 had been reported through the IMPACT network among children under 16 years of age,” it said.

    The World Health Organization said visits to sentinel doctors in North America for flu like illness has surpassed the levels seen in the past six flu seasons.

    Since April, a total of 3,764 people had been admitted to hospitals in Canada with 606 patients taken to intensive care units. PHAC reports that the vast majority of admission to hospitals were during the period Nov. 1 to Nov. 7.

    Data expected to be reported for the current week is likely to contain far higher admissions and deaths as hospitals continue to report over-capacity patient load and emergency visits.

    “The intensity of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in the population was high with 1,324 hospitalizations and 35 deaths reported this week,” Ottawa said but the total deats since then have mounted to 161 with 24 dead in Ontario reported between Nov. 10 and Nov. 12.

    “Nationally, there was a considerable increase in the influenza activity level reported this week with a proportion of positive influenza tests of more than 38%, the national ILI (influenza like illness) consultation rate of almost 100 per 1,000 patient visits, 25 regions reporting widespread activity and over 750 influenza outbreaks reported,” said PHAC. “This increased activity occurred in almost all provinces and territories.”

    Children and youths had the highest doctor consultations across the country.

    “People under 20 years of age had the highest consultations rates, with 153 and 226 per 1,000 patient visits among children under 5 years of age and among those 5 and 19 years of age, respectively,” said the report.

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