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Guatemalan boy died of flu and a bacterial infection while in US custody, autopsy shows

Posted: 9:44 PM, Apr 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-02 21:44:34-04

Catarina Gomez Lucas, sister Felipe Gomez, shows his picture on a phone in Yalambojoch village in Guatemala. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The death of an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died while in United States custody was caused by complications from the flu and a bacterial infection, the Central American country’s foreign ministry said.

Felipe Gómez Alonzo died of Influenza B complicated by a staph bacteria infection that led to sepsis, the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry said.

Marta Larra, the ministry’s spokeswoman, said Guatemalan officials received an autopsy report on Monday.

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

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said it has not finalized its autopsy report on Felipe’s death, said Alexandra Sanchez, the office’s spokeswoman.

The office had said Felipe tested positive for Influenza B but a cause of death had not been determined at the time.

CNN has reached out to US Customs and Border Protection for comment.

The boy died on Christmas Eve at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of the border crossing in El Paso, Texas.

He was detained with his father for illegal entry about 3 miles west of the Paso del Norte port of entry in El Paso.

Felipe was taken to the hospital 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.

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

Felipe’s body was repatriated to Guatemala and was laid to rest in Yalambojoch in January, his half-sister said.

His father, Agustín Gómez Pérez was released from CBP custody and is still in the United States, a family member said.

Felipe was the second Guatemalan child to die in US border patrol custody in December.

Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in a hospital two days after she and her father were taken to a Border Patrol station.

An autopsy report released last week revealed she died from a bacterial infection known as streptococcal sepsis.

The infection was “rapidly progressive,” which led to “multiple organ dysfunction and death,” said the report from the medical examiner’s office in El Paso County, Texas.