Nebraska Experiences First H1N1 Death

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The first death of a Nebraska resident due to novel H1N1 influenza virus was reported Tuesday to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The patient was a woman in her 50s who resided in Custer County. The woman had several chronic, underlying health conditions, such as heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Because of state statutes, the name and other details about the patient can’t be released.

“Her loss is a tragedy, and my condolences go out to her loved ones. Any death from influenza is profoundly sad,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer. “Unfortunately, from the beginning we knew there would be deaths from this illness in Nebraska, based on the fact that there have been deaths in other parts of the United States and in Mexico.”

“H1N1 can be a very serious illness, especially for those who have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and asthma, or who have compromised immune systems,” she said. “From what is known nationally at this time it appears to be very serious for pregnant women and people who are obese.”

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DHHS has had 264 cases of H1N1 reported in Nebraska. Thirteen people have been hospitalized.

H1N1 seems to be affecting the younger age groups in the U.S. and Nebraska, particularly those 5 to 24. In Nebraska, the average age is 20. Only 17 cases have been over 50.

DHHS is working with local health departments to investigate cases and contacts of people with the virus.

A health alert will be issued to physicians and other providers reminding them that all influenza being seen at this time is novel H1N1 and providing them with important information regarding the statistics, treatment and prevention.

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