Only a week ago, Amanda De La Rosa was full of life and thrilled to be starting a new job as a child care worker at Great Valley Academy in Modesto.
She was working with children and also helping her mother, Neva, a secretary whom everyone in the academy's front office relies on.
Thursday, the 19-year-old's life was cut short after a brief bout with an unknown illness. Officials suspect she could be another victim of the H1N1 flu pandemic. The Stanislaus County coroner is expected to determine the cause of death by Monday or Tuesday.
The coroner's office is also awaiting pathology tests on "a couple of other" people who died recently after having flu symptoms, an official said Friday. Details on those cases were not released Friday.
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Amanda Grace De La Rosa was the oldest daughter of Neva and Roger De La Rosa, who have two other teenage children. The parents gave her the middle name Grace because of Neva's trials during the pregnancy two decades ago.
There were signs Neva had miscarried at 10 weeks and health care providers confirmed the bad news. But at a final appointment they found a heart beat, Neva said. "Grace" became a testament to their daughter's Christian faith.
"She was all about caring for people and pleasing people," Neva said Friday. "It was an honor to be her mom."
Amanda was born in Los Gatos but spent most of her childhood in Hughson. She loved to dance to hip hop, contemporary or jazz music and taught dance classes at Whitmore Charter School in Ceres. She graduated from Whitmore, a fine arts and technology school, in 2008.
Neva said her daughter loved going to the coast near Monterey and Carmel, and she wanted to get married someday on the beach. She took part in youth activities at First Baptist Church in downtown Modesto.
She was a role model for her sister, Melissa, 17, and brother, Noah, 15.
Amanda worked as a waitress at the Bleachers Grill on McHenry Avenue before she was given a job this month at Great Valley Academy, a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade charter school on Tully Road. Students are taught Spanish starting in kindergarten, and the teachers eat lunch with them family-style.
Last week, Amanda worked the first week of the school year, in the school's before- and after-school child care, and then came down with flu symptoms Aug 21. She was sick from that Friday through Sunday and then seemed to get over it, her mother said.
She went to work Tuesday and then stayed home Wednesday with symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
As her condition got worse, the parents took her to Doctors Medical Center, although they still were not overly alarmed.
"We thought she would be out of the hospital with antibiotics and it would be over," Roger De La Rosa said.
Tests were run and Amanda was put in a critical care unit for treatment. She died at 10:12 a.m. Thursday.
The parents said doctors told them their daughter had a viral infection in the lining of her heart. As of Friday, the exact nature of the infection had not been determined.
School officials said Thursday about a dozen Great Valley students were sent home with flu-like symptoms this week. Some staff members were also ill.
The Stanislaus County Office of Education, which oversees the school, decided Thursday to keep the campus open after conferring with county public health officials. Friday morning, things appeared to be business as usual at the academy.
"I don't think we should worry too much," parent Chris Rowen said, before escorting his child toward class. "I think they are handling it just fine. I would like to find out a little more."
On Friday, Dr. John Walker, county public health officer, talked with school officials in Stanislaus County about plans for dealing with H1N1 in the coming months, including preparing for vaccinations that could be available as early as mid-October.
The H1N1 virus, which is related to viruses found in pigs in Europe and Asia, tends to hit harder in children, young adults and pregnant women than does seasonal flu. The two confirmed deaths in Stanislaus County were a 21-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man.
When the disease spilled over from Mexico to the United States in April, probable cases among schoolchildren resulted in school closures. But federal, state and local health agencies softened the policy before students returned from summer vacation this month.
"It is hitting the target population, but we don't want to see people wearing masks or pulling children out of school for no reason," said Phoebe Leung, assistant director of the county Health Services Agency.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.