The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today confirmed two California residents have died from the H1N1 flu. One individual was a middle-aged man from San Bernardino County. The other was a middle-aged woman from Los Angeles County. Both had pre-existing medical conditions.
“We are saddened by California’s first deaths from the H1N1 flu.” said Dr. Mark Horton, director of CDPH. “While, overall, we have seen predominantly mild flu cases in the state, these fatalities remind us that all flu viruses can be deadly, including the H1N1 flu. We will continue to monitor H1N1 cases in California to determine the extent to which the virus is circulating and the severity of illness.”
Further details about the circumstances of the two cases will be released at the discretion of local health officers: San Bernardino (909) 387-6219; Los Angeles (213) 240-8144.
Statewide, 802 individuals have been identified as confirmed or probable cases of the H1N1 virus. Of the cases, 47 have been hospitalized and nine have required intensive care treatment. Most of those hospitalized had underlying medical conditions, including lung disease, weakened immune systems and heart disease. A smaller number suffered diabetes and/or obesity. Another common factor was pregnancy.
The first known U.S. cases of H1N1 flu were detected in California in April. CDPH undertook an aggressive response to the detection of the novel flu virus, and in coordination with county and local health care providers, continues to monitor the virus and those infected with it.
Earlier this month, CDPH scientists published preliminary research findings that summarized California’s hospitalized cases. The preliminary overview indicated that, although the majority of hospitalized persons infected with H1N1 recovered without complications, certain patients had severe and prolonged disease. The findings were published in “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm58e0518a1.htm
Currently there is no vaccine available to protect against the H1N1 flu. However, there are everyday actions people can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause influenza illnesses, such as:
Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Avoiding close contact with sick people.
Avoiding social gatherings if you are ill or if you have medical conditions that put you at risk for flu complications.
Getting immunized against seasonal influenza this coming fall.
The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with the virus.
If you get sick with influenza, CDPH recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and contact your health care provider.