ATLANTA, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Doctors reported 19 H1N1 flu virus deaths among U.S. children and teenagers in the past week, the largest pediatric weekly toll so far, officials said Friday.
The virus strain, commonly known as swine flu, has killed at least 76 victims under the age of 18 since last spring when the pandemic began, The Washington Post reported.
"These pediatric deaths seem to be increasing substantially," said Anne
Schuchat, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Schuchat said the number of deaths leveled off in the summer after rising sharply in April, May and June, but have begun increasing again. She described 20 percent to 30 percent of the victims as healthy with no underlying condition like muscular dystrophy or asthma to make them more vulnerable.
Seven of the reported deaths were in Texas, two in Maryland and one each in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
A massive campaign to vaccinate against the H1N1 strain is just getting under way.