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County confirms first H1N1 death

‘Virus activity is on the increase within our community,’ says public health officer

County confirms first H1N1 death

Denice Shuttera of Boies Medical Center Pharmacy shows the two types of face masks they have in stock. In late April, the store was sold out of masks after reports of increasing deaths from the H1N...


POSTED July 6, 2009 5:11 p.m.

The first death in Stanislaus County from the H1N1 virus was confirmed on Monday.


According to the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, a 21-year-old county woman with pre-existing medical conditions died on July 1 while hospitalized with severe pneumonia.


“Tests later revealed that this was a complication of infection with the H1N1 virus,” said Stanislaus County Public Health Officer Dr. John Walker.
The public health department also reported an increase in the number of confirmed H1N1 cases in the county.


“We have had numerous tests for H1N1 within our county during the past two months,” Walker said. “Only four have tested positive, and all four have been within the past three weeks. Clearly, virus activity is on the increase within our community. However, this should not be cause for alarm.”


As of July 2, the state has reported more than 2,000 cases of the virus, with 233 hospitalized and 23 deaths. The number of possible virus samples sent to the State Public Health Laboratory are at levels normally seen during the  winter months. The steady increase of cases prompted the California Department of Health to upgrade the state’s H1N1 influenza activity to “widespread.”


“...the tragic California H1N1 deaths this spring and summer reveal that we are still in the early stages of a global influenza pandemic and need to continue precautions to protect ourselves, our families, our co-workers, and our community,” said Walker.


While the number of influenza cases are increasing state-wide, an abnormal number of patients seeking medical treatment for the flu has yet to be seen in Turlock. The Infection Control Department of Emanuel Medical Center reported no increase in the past few weeks of patients coming in to the emergency room or being admitted with flu-like symptoms, said hospital spokesperson John Gilbert.


Local pharmacies are also reporting no increase in the number of patients buying face masks or asking about flu prevention.


“When it was reported that 64 people died in Mexico (from the H1N1 virus at the end of April), we had lots of calls and a doctor’s office down the street took all the face masks we had in stock,” said Denice Shuttera of Boies Medical Center Pharmacy. “But we haven’t had any calls in the past few weeks,” she said.


Currently the health department is not recommending the general public wear face masks to prevent the spread of the flu, but they do have a list of precautions to prevent the spread of the virus:
• Cover coughs and sneezes with elbows, sleeves or with a tissue. Dispose of the tissue after each use.
• Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.    
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, even after washing hands.    
• Avoid close contact with sick people.    
• Stay home if sick.    


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 influenza.


There is currently no vaccine for the H1N1 virus. However, a vaccine is in production and, according the county public health department, should be available by late fall-early winter.


For more information about the H1N1 virus, visit the County web site at www.stanemergency.com. 
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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