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Local H1N1 fatalities rise

Flu virus expected to infect 30 to 50 percent of Americans

POSTED September 1, 2009 10:45 p.m.
A new mother and a 45-year-old woman have joined the growing list of H1N1 related fatalities in Stanislaus County.
County health officials announced on Monday that a 29-year-old postpartum woman and a 45-year-old woman both died on Aug. 26 from complications of the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as the swine flu.
Both women had been hospitalized prior to their deaths. The Stanislaus County Health and Human Services department did no release any further information about the two women.
Their deaths bring the county total up to four. Testing of a 19-year-old Modesto woman previously thought to have died from the virus came back negative, according to the county coroner. The cause of death for Amanda De La Rosa is still unknown and further test results are pending.
“We would like to convey our deepest sympathy to the families of these two patients,” said Cleopathia Moore, the associate director and the maternal child and adolescent health director at the county health services agency.
The symptoms of H1N1 Influenza in humans are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1. Anyone coming down with flu-like symptoms is advised to stay home, get plenty of rest and not return to work or school until they have been free of a fever for 24 hours.
The virus seems to take a greater toll on younger people and pregnant women, according to health officials.
“We are particularly concerned about pregnant women,” Moore said. “It is important that they remain vigilant in protecting themselves from being exposed to the H1N1 virus.”
Women who are pregnant and children under the  age of five, are at higher risk for complications from the flu. In addition to working with the schools,  public health officials have been communicating with prenatal providers in Stanislaus County, providing them with information and guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on H1N1 and pregnancy.
In Stanislaus County, the median age of hospitalized patients is around 30 years, and over 50 percent of them are women, according to the health services agency.
The CDC is reporting 8,843 people have been hospitalized with the virus as of Aug. 27 and 556 people have died from it.
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a report Monday that stated the H1N1 virus could infect 30 to 50 percent of Americans during the upcoming fall and winter months.
The report stated that a plausible scenario included 1.8 million people hospitalized with the virus in the United States and anywhere between 30,000 to 90,000 deaths from the H1N1 virus.
Every year the United States records on average 40,000 deaths from seasonal flu, with most fatalities from those that are 65 years and older.
The advisory report said the combination of people sick with the H1N1 virus and those with the seasonal flu, could put “enormous stress” on intensive care units across the country.
Testing is currently being conducted on a H1N1 vaccine and it is expected to be available by mid-October to priority cases, which include pregnant women, caretakers of infants under 6 months old, health care workers, and people aged 6 months to 24 years.
The report suggests the government step up production of the vaccine because at the current rate, the H1N1 virus could hit its peak before a vaccine is available. The report gave a scenario with the virus making a resurgence in September and hitting its peak in mid-October. Individuals would need several weeks for the vaccine to build up their immunity, according to the report.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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