WC student dies at 15; cause remains under study

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 28, 2009

A 15-year-old Warren Central High School student who loved to play football, basketball and run track died Thursday morning from a cause that remained undetermined.

Wesley Husband, 35 Round Alley, had complained for days of not feeling well and was at The Street Clinic in a small waiting room detached from the main waiting area when he died about 9:30, said his grandfather, Wesley Brown.

An autopsy Thursday afternoon ruled out bacterial meningitis, which had caused the death of another student earlier in the week, said Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey. Tests for the H1N1 novel or swine flu virus were pending this morning. Huskey said the results may be known later today or Saturday.

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Wesley had some symptoms of pneumonia, Huskey said, a common complication of the flu.

“He was a good kid in school,” Wesley’s grandfather said. The WC freshman “loved to go to school and he loved his sports. He enjoyed whatever he did, and would just make you smile and love to be around him.”

Brown said Wesley began to feel ill a week ago today. He stayed home from school and family members took him to a clinic Monday, his grandfather said.

Tuesday, Wesley went back to school and to football practice in the afternoon, but came home feeling sick again and was taken to the emergency room at River Region Medical Center, Brown said, where he was told he was suffering from a sinus drainage problem.

Wesley stayed home from school again Wednesday, complaining of chest pain, Brown said. The boy did not seem to be feverish, but was not eating well, he said.

Taken to the outpatient clinic Thursday morning, Wesley complained that he could not see and was too weak to walk, Brown said. “He said he felt like he was going to pass out,” his grandfather said. Attendants began to treat him and Wesley began bleeding internally and then died.

“The autopsy is complete and the medical examiner believes she sees pneumonia-like symptoms, but further tests are required to confirm that,” Huskey said Thursday. Wesley’s symptoms had been coughing and congestion, Huskey said.

V’Shanti Washington, 6, a Dana Road Elementary student died Sunday from bacterial meningitis at University Medical Center’s Blair E. Batson’s Children’s Hospital in Jackson. She was rushed there two days earlier. Local school and state Department of Health officials responded by identifying students and staff who may have been in close contact with V’Shanti, because the bacterial infection is contagious. Preventive antibiotics were recommended for six students.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include high fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache and discomfort with bright lights.

“We’re saddened by the deaths,” Warren County School District Superintendent Dr. James Price said. “This is a tragic time for the families of these children. The faculty and staff are doing everything they have to do to have a clean, safe, orderly environment for the children.”

While the district has fielded some calls from parents asking him to close schools for a period of time, Price said most calls received from parents were simply to ask if schools were remaining open.

“We are doing everything that we know to do now to prevent swine flu as it is,” Price said. “I don’t know of anything that we could do more than we’re doing now.”

Attendance figures for today were not available.

Symptoms of H1N1 novel flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta cautions that severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of the virus, but just one confirmed death from swine flu has been recorded in Mississippi — a 7-year-old girl from Jackson County.

The death of a 13-year-old Hancock County middle school student Thursday is also being investigated by the state Department of Health for a swine flu connection.

When asked about the child’s symptoms, Hancock County coroner Norma Stiglet said, “We just don’t know. We’re waiting for results from the lab work. We need to find out exactly what caused her to pass away.”

Vicksburg Warren schools reported Thursday that 30 students in the 9,000-student district had been diagnosed by physicians with swine flu, which has been reported across the nation over the past three months. But Price emphasized that the cases had not been confirmed by the state Department of Health. “We have not been told of any confirmed cases,” Price said.

The state Health Department has confirmed five swine flu cases in Warren County, but does not attempt to track every case, said director of communications Liz Sharlot. It is reasonable to assume that doctor-reported cases are accurate because doctors are the ones treating individuals, and the H1N1 flu virus is the only one going around right now, she said.

“The flu scares me a lot,” Vicksburg physician Daniel Edney said Thursday at a local civic group meeting. “It’s here, and it’s not going away until probably next February or March. We have no protection right now except wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.”

Edney also stressed the importance of “self-quarantining,” saying people who are ill need to stay home to avoid infecting others and spreading the disease. The flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919, which killed half a million people, was tracked back to just one family who “broke quarantine,” he said.

Vaccines for both H1N1 and seasonal flu are expected to be available in October, Edney said.

“If you have the opportunity to get it, you better get it,” he said.

Wesley’s mother is deceased. He has a younger sister and a younger brother. Services will be under the direction of Jefferson Funeral Home.

He was the second Warren Central student to die since classes started Aug. 4. Olivia McMillan, 15, was killed Aug. 7 when a tree fell on her home on Dusty Road.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com