Clark County Reports First H1N1 Flu-Related Death

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The Southern Nevada Health District announced the first H1N1-related death in Clark County. The patient is a 70-year-old woman and a New York resident. Her illness was identified shortly after she arrived in Las Vegas and she was hospitalized shortly after. She had underlying medical conditions that can cause more severe illness and complications with influenza. The health district will not release additional details. To date, there are 52 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza in Clark County, a majority of which have experienced mild illness.

“It is sobering that a patient has died from this influenza strain and it serves as a reminder that we anticipate cases with severe illness and hospitalizations in our community as with other strains of flu. Unfortunately there is a possibility we may see more deaths as we do each flu season,” said Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “We have been fortunate that most patients locally have had mild illnesses, although there have been hospitalizations. We also want to remind everyone that most people who are infected with this strain or any other influenza strain do not seek medical attention and recover on their own.”

The health district’s influenza surveillance program is ongoing and the agency continues to work with community partners and health care providers to monitor the current situation and take appropriate measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report more than 17,000 confirmed and probable cases nationwide with 45 deaths. Cases of severe illness have been reported in the United States but for the most part cases have been fairly mild. The health district is stressing that a recommendation to close public venues or schools is not warranted at this time. Individuals who are ill should avoid traveling or attending public events to minimize the spread of influenza or any other infectious illness.

Current recommendations to the public encourage good health habits to minimize the spread of influenza:

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

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* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

* If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

* Plan ahead. Have enough food and supplies on hand to ensure you can rest comfortably at home if you do become ill but don’t require professional medical care.

Individuals who become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea may want to contact their health care provider. Only a health care provider can determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. As with seasonal flu, swine flu infection can be serious in some people. While swine flu viruses can infect humans, the current strain circulating in our community is made of genes from four different types of flu viruses, including those found in swine, birds and humans. The name “swine flu” actually refers to the origin of some of the pieces of the virus and is not related to how this particular disease is spread or the source of infection in the community. The current strain of the virus appears only to be spreading from person to person and swine have not been found to be infected. Also, there is no risk of being infected with any type of swine flu from consuming pork products.

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