Massachusetts Announces First H1N1-Related Death

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A 30-year-old woman from Boston is the first death linked to H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in Massachusetts, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced today.

“It is with great sadness that we have learned today of the death of a Boston resident from illness associated with H1N1. We extend our deepest sympathy to this woman’s family and friends,’’ said Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. ``While most cases of H1N1 in Boston and nationwide have been less severe, this news demonstrates how serious influenza can be,’’ she said.

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The patient was hospitalized on June 5, and test results came back positive for H1N1 on June 10. She died yesterday, June 14.

As of Sunday, June 14, there have been 441 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in Boston and 54 hospitalizations. As of Thursday, June 11, there have been 1,153 confirmed cases and 80 hospitalizations in Massachusetts. By contrast, seasonal influenza causes 250,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year.

“We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness, so it is important that we all redouble our prevention efforts to limit the spread of this illness and to respond appropriately when it occurs,’’ said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach.

BPHC and DPH officials said certain groups of people are at higher risk of complications from the flu. These groups include children under the age of 2, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. These people should call their doctor immediately to discuss appropriate treatment if they develop a fever with a cough, sore throat, or runny nose.

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