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posted on September 28, 2009 07:01

The 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus has contributed to the death of a Canyon County man in his 50s who had an underlying medical condition. This is the first death associated with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus in Idaho. 

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the man’s family and loved ones,” says Dr. Christine Hahn, M.D., Idaho State Epidemiologist. “This is a sobering reminder that influenza is serious, especially for those who have underlying medical conditions. We are working closely with your local Public Health Districts to monitor infections and do everything possible to protect people in our state.”
 
A total of 488 people in Idaho have lab confirmed infections from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic fu virus since April, with 139 of those reported since September 1. Public health officials believe a far larger number of people have become infected with the H1N1 virus, but have not been ill enough to seek medical attention or lab testing.
 
Symptoms of H1N1 pandemic infection are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, with some reports of diarrhea and vomiting. “Most children and adults with the flu who are generally in good health will recover without needing to visit a doctor or other health care provider,” Dr. Hahn says. “Children and adults who are ill and at high risk for flu complications, and people with more severe flu symptoms, should call their regular health care provider.” Dr. Hahn recommends that when possible, people should contact their health care provider to get advice on whether they need to be seen.
 
People considered to be high risk for H1N1 pandemic flu infection include: 
  •  Pregnant women,
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel,
  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age, and
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.  
A vaccine for 2009 H1N1 has been developed and should become available in limited quantities in October. The seasonal flu vaccine is available now, and public health officials urge people to get vaccinated with the seasonal vaccine as soon as possible.
 
Over the last five years, seasonal flu infections contributed to the deaths of an average of nine Idaho residents each flu season. “People should not overlook the risks of seasonal flu, for it can be just as serious as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu, especially for children, people with underlying medical conditions and people over the age of 50,” Dr. Hahn says. “We know that people can catch both seasonal and pandemic flu, so we strongly urge people to schedule a vaccine now for the seasonal flu, and over the next few weeks we will learn more about the pandemic vaccine.”
 
Detailed information about the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus is availabe from:
·   The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website at www.panflu.idaho.gov.
·   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov/h1n1lflu/
·   U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services website at www.flu.gov
·   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Hotline: 1-800-CDC-Info (1-800-232-4636).
 
People wanting to receive a seasonal flu vaccine are urged to contact their local healthcare provider. If they do not have a healthcare provider, they can find available clinics in their area through www.flucliniclocator.org or www.findaflushot.com, or contact their local public health district. People also can call the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1 for help in locating a vaccine provider.
 
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(Editors: For more information please contact DHW Public Information Officer Tom Shanahan, 208-334-0668 or your District Health Department Public Information Officer.)