South Carolina Records First H1N1 Flu-Associated Death

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South Carolina has recorded its first death associated with novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu), the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

“It saddens me greatly to report that a Midlands-area child died last week from complications associated with H1N1,” said DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends. This is a tragic reminder that this influenza virus is here, active in our state and can be deadly.”

Hunter said the child who fell victim to the new strain of flu had serious underlying health problems before contracting H1N1. More than 500 cases of novel H1N1 influenza have been confirmed in South Carolina since the disease was first reported in the state in April.

“The novel A H1N1 flu cases we’ve seen have been similar in severity to seasonal influenza,” said Jerry Gibson, M.D., chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control. “It’s important to remember that seasonal influenza also kills thousands of people each year in this country. We strongly recommend that everyone take sensible steps to protect themselves.”

Gibson said those steps should include:

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* Washing your hands frequently;

* Covering your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throwing away the tissue immediately and washing your hands, or using your upper sleeve if no tissue is available;

* Staying home if you are sick;

* Staying away from others who appear to be sick;

* Strengthening your resistance to illness by eating properly, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest; and

* Being alert for the upcoming availability of vaccine to fight novel H1N1 influenza.

Dr. Gibson said symptoms of novel H1N1 flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and include fever, dry cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, contact your regular health care provider.

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