Friday, October 2, 2009

Kentucky Reports Second H1N1-Associated Death involving Jefferson Co. Woman

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness Department announced today that the state will be reporting its second death related to 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu). The death involved woman in her 40s who did not have any apparent underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza always has the potential to cause serious illness or complications that can result in hospitalization, and even death. It is a tragedy when we lose a Kentuckian to any illness," said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of DPH. "Kentucky continues to experience widespread flu activity at the moment, and is working with federal, state and local partners in the public and private sectors to prepare for the 2009 H1N1 vaccination campaign. Flu vaccine is one of the most effective tools we have against influenza and we hope to begin immunizing Kentuckians in October."

Although more than 900 deaths associated with H1N1 influenza have been reported nationwide, the severity of H1N1 influenza illness appears comparable to seasonal influenza, which is responsible for about 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state reported its first swine flu-associated death in early September, involving a Fayette County woman in her 50s who had underlying health conditions. DPH is also investigating whether the death of a Caldwell County teenager may have been associated with H1N1. 

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," said Metro Public Health and Wellness director Dr. Adewale Troutman. “This case is unusual and an outlier. I want to emphasize that in the vast majority of H1N1 cases--in Louisville, in Kentucky and in the United States--people have recovered and have not had to seek medical treatment. There is also no evidence of an increase in the virulence of the H1N1 virus. In the vast majority of cases, the H1N1 virus has proven to be no more virulent that regular season flu. Having said that, we must also acknowledge that influenza virus, both seasonal flu virus and the H1N1 virus can have serious consequences."


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