Massachusetts: Two More Deaths Related To H1N1 Influenza

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the deaths of two more people linked to H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in the state. A 13 year-old Worcester County resident, who died last week, has been confirmed to have had H1N1. He had a number of underlying health conditions that put him at greater risk of complications from the flu. Confirmatory test results are pending at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute for a 64 year-old Worcester County resident, who died over the weekend, and also had a series of underlying health conditions.

"It is with great sadness that we have learned of two more deaths including the first pediatric death of a Massachusetts resident related to H1N1. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of both of these individuals," said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. "While most cases of H1N1 in Massachusetts and across the nation have been less severe, this news demonstrates once again how serious influenza can be."

As of today, there have been more than 1300 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza in Massachusetts. Sixty-four percent of the confirmed cases in Massachusetts have been in people under the age of 18. Each year, seasonal influenza causes 250,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths nationally.

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 health 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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"We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness, especially in people with certain underlying health conditions," added Commissioner Auerbach. "It's important to remind everyone — especially these vulnerable populations — how important it is to take simple precautions to keep from getting and spreading the flu.""

These steps include:

* Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

* Cover your cough with a tissue or cough into your inner elbow and not into your hands.

* If you are sick stay home from work and if your child is sick keep them home from school for 7 days, or 24 hours after your symptoms go away — whichever is longer.

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