23rd confirmed death from H1N1; KDHE advises continued caution

A 27 year-old woman from northeast Kansas has died from infection with the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Monday.

This death brings the total number of confirmed deaths from the pandemic strain statewide to 23.

The woman?s infection was confirmed in the KDHE laboratory Oct. 22, and her death was reported to KDHE Dec. 16.

The woman had underlying health conditions that placed her at greater risk for severe complications of influenza.

KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby and Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas state health officer, expressed sympathy and offered their deepest condolences to the family.

?Most sadly, the 2009 H1N1 flu virus has taken the life of another young person,? Eber?hart-Phillips said. ?Now that the vaccine is becoming more widely available, we are hopeful that more people will begin taking advantage of it.?

The pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine is being distributed to public health departments, health care providers and retail pharmacies across the state.

Up-to-date information on H1N1 vaccination clinics across the state can be found by going to kdheks.gov and clicking on ?Where can I receive the H1N1vaccine??

It is important to note that the number of deaths confirmed to be caused by pandemic H1N1 influenza under-represents the true number of deaths. The great majority of all influenza or pneumonia-related deaths that occur?pneumonia is the most common severe complication of influenza?do not have a confirmatory lab result associated with them.

For more information on mortality due to influenza-like illness in Kansas, please review KDHE?s Epidemiology and Surveillance Weekly Status Report available at kdheks.gov/H1N1/H1N1_Epi_Reports.htm.

The symptoms of infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever of 100 degrees or greater, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.

Most people who have been ill with pandemic H1N1 influenza have recovered without medical treatment.

However, some people develop serious complications that require hospitalization or may lead to death.

Although serious complications are more likely among persons with certain underlying chronic health conditions, this pandemic influenza virus has caused serious complications and deaths among persons without such factors.

Unlike typical seasonal influenza, the 2009 H1N1 virus is causing a greater disease burden among adolescents and young adults. Severe illness from H1N1 virus infection can even occur among relatively young, healthy persons.

Most children and adults with the flu who are generally in good health will recover without needing to visit a health care provider.

Some people may want to call their health care provider for advice on how to care for the flu at home. When planning to visit hospitalized patients, people should first call the health care facility to ask about any restrictions on visitation.

Some hospitals and other health care facilities have put additional restrictions in place to reduce the risk of spreading the 2009 H1N1 virus.

Individuals who experience severe illness or who are at high risk of complications from H1N1 influenza infection, including children less than 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and persons with chronic medical conditions (including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions), should contact their health care provider.

Until people are able to be vaccinated against the virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce its spread:

? Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

? If you become sick, stay home until at least 24 hours after fever or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, in order to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.

? Cough or sneeze into a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues. If you do not have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow and not your hands.

? Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.

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