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Missouri Woman Dies Of H1N1 Flu

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

An Independence woman became the second Missouri resident to die as a result of the H1N1 flu, state health officials said.

The 24-year-old woman died Wednesday night, several days after she was hospitalized with flu symptoms. A private laboratory confirmed that the woman was positive for the H1N1 virus, which is commonly referred to as swine flu.

Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, expressed sorrow that the illness had claimed another life.

"Our hearts go out to this woman's family and friends," Donnelly said. "This is further evidence that, while most people experience only mild symptoms from the H1N1 virus, this flu is dangerous and can even be deadly."

The H1N1 flu has been confirmed in nearly 400 Missouri residents since the virus emerged in the United States last April. But health officials say the true number of flu cases is much higher because most people recover without treatment and without being tested.

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Nationwide, the H1N1 virus has been blamed for more than 600 deaths and has sickened at least 44,000 people. The first Missouri death attributed to the H1N1 flu came last May when a 44-year-old St. Louis County man became ill after vacationing in Mexico, where the virus was first detected.

State health officials said they would be working with the Independence Health Department to determine whether further investigation is needed.

Donnelly said the serious nature of the woman's illness underscored the need for people to take basic steps to limit the spread of the flu and to get vaccinated when the H1N1 vaccine becomes available in mid-October.

"The more people who get vaccinated, the fewer people there are to catch the virus and the fewer there are spreading the flu to others," Donnelly said. "Getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family and your community."

Studies have also shown that the some of the simplest methods for avoiding the flu are also the most effective. The best weapon: soap and water. Frequent hand washing has shown to virtually eliminate the virus.

People should also cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of their elbows – not their bare hands. They should also avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth because that is how the virus often enters the body.

People should stay home when they are sick to avoid passing the flu to others. People caring for a person with the flu should try to maintain a distance of at least three to six feet to keep from inhaling the virus produced when the person coughs.