TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Health Department officials have confirmed that 16-year-old LaTowyn Gaston died of swine flu. It has not been confirmed if the teen suffered from any underlying health issues that might have contributed to his death.

It is the first confirmed death caused by the H1N1 virus in Tulsa County. Gaston was a student at East Central in Tulsa.


Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, AND cough/sore throat

• Other symptoms may include headache, chills, muscle aches or fatigue, sore throat, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not acting right
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

Ways to Protect the Health of Children:

To keep the flu from spreading to more people, the Tulsa Health Department recommends sick children stay at home. Any children who are sick at school should be sent home. It is important to be alert for signs of illness in your children.

Following are some ways you can slow the spread of germs:

  • Children who are sick should stay home and not attend school or go into the community except to seek medical care
  • Children should not return to school until fever free for at least 24 hours without fever medication
  • Teach children to wash their hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing your ABCs twice).
  • Teach children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of the elbow.
  • Teach children to avoid close contact with others who are sick.

Groups at High Risk for Complications from Flu
It is particularly important for those who are at high risk for complications from influenza to continue good health habits and to seek medical guidance if they begin to experience flu-like symptoms. High risk groups include:

  • Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu

Influenza Vaccinations

The Tulsa Health Department is currently able to offer free seasonal flu vaccinations at their area clinics to anyone who wishes to receive the vaccine. A limited supply of H1N1 vaccine is scheduled to arrive in Tulsa County within the next week. With the first shipment of vaccine being a limited amount and in nasal spray form, the Tulsa Health Department will be following established federal protocols and targeting high risk groups first beginning with health care workers who provide direct patient care to those most vulnerable to complications from the flu. Examples include area hospital workers with direct patient care in emergency departments, pediatrics and intensive care units.

The Tulsa Health Department will also utilize the initial vaccine supply to begin implementing their countywide school vaccination program by offering vaccine to students and faculty at Limestone Elementary in Sand Springs. Although many schools are reporting student absences similar to those found during typical flu season, Limestone Elementary is experiencing a higher than usual absentee rate. As vaccine supplies increase in the coming weeks, the Tulsa Health Department will be deploying teams of nurses to area schools who wish to offer the H1N1 vaccine to their faculty and students.

Priority groups to receive H1N1 vaccinations include the following:

  • Pregnant women
  • Health care workers and emergency medical responders
  • People caring for infants less than 6 months of age
  • Children and young adults from 6 months to 24 years of age

• Persons aged 25 to 64 who have underlying medical conditions