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Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. custody had the flu, medical examiner says

EL PASO, Texas — The 8-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died this week in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection had the flu, according to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.

An official cause of death for Felipe Gomez Alonzo has not yet been determined.

The boy, who was detained with his father, died shortly before midnight Christmas Eve at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of the border crossing in El Paso, Texas.

An autopsy on the boy shows he tested positive for Influenza B, the medical examiner’s office said Friday.

Influenza B is among the viruses that cause seasonal epidemics most winters in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Felipe was taken to the hospital Monday after a border agent noticed signs of illness, and the medical staff first diagnosed him with a common cold and later detected a fever.

“The child was held for an additional 90 minutes for observation and then released from the hospital mid-afternoon on December 24 with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen,” CBP said in a statement.

Amoxicillin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic.

On Monday evening, the boy began vomiting and was taken back to the hospital for evaluation. He died hours later, the CBP said.

Felipe was the second Guatemalan child to die in U.S. border patrol custody this month.

On Dec. 8, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in a hospital two days after she was taken to a Border Patrol station.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she is traveling to two U.S. cities near the Mexican border “to see firsthand the medical screenings and conditions at Border Patrol stations.”

She’ll be in El Paso on Friday and Yuma, Arizona, on Saturday, a DHS official said.

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