North Carolina Confirms First H1N1 Death
The North Carolina Division of Public Health announced the state’s first death linked to infection with the novel H1N1 virus. The patient was an adult resident of Guilford County with underlying medical conditions. Following his death Friday following a brief hospitalization, testing at the State Laboratory of Public Health confirmed infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus.
“My sympathy goes out to the family of North Carolina’s first fatality in connection with the H1N1 virus,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “Our state health officials are responding forcefully to the threat posed by H1N1, and we must remain vigilant in preventing the spread of this virus.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler said the death is “a sad reminder of the importance of staying focused on prevention. This agency will remain steadfast in communicating a message of prevention.”
DHHS encourages everyone to follow five basic prevention steps:
* Stay home if you are sick to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough of 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.
To date North Carolina has recorded 124 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in 31 counties. Laboratory-confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the likely number of cases in the state because testing is limited mostly to people who are hospitalized with influenza-like illness or to those seen by doctors who are part of the state’s influenza surveillance network.
State Health Director Jeffrey Engel said H1N1 so far has been similar to seasonal flu, which kills about 36,000 people every year in the United States. “So we know it can cause serious illness or death. That’s why we continue to urge people to follow good prevention practices every day to protect themselves,” Dr. Engel said. “We also know that some groups have a higher risk for serious illness — especially infants, pregnant women or people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or immune system problems.”