First H1N1 Flu Death in Spokane County
First Spokane County H1N1 swine influenza death announced Health District urging preparation and vigilance for the fall
SPOKANE, WA - A visitor to Spokane who had multiple underlying health conditions died on July 16 from complications linked to H1N1 influenza (swine flu), the first reported H1N1 death in Spokane County. The woman was in her 40's and was hospitalized at the time of death. Tests from the Washington State Department of Health's lab confirmed the H1N1 virus today.
"Our hearts go out to the family for their loss," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for Spokane Regional Health District. "Sadly, this is an example of how H1N1 flu can have very serious consequences. We are now intensively planning and preparing for the anticipated spread of the virus in the fall."
Health Officials across the nation are planning for the fall, when they believe that children going back to school will lead to an increase in the virus' spread. The severity of the H1N1 virus has not changed here in Washington state or anywhere around the world, and so far it has not been more severe than the typical seasonal flu. However since it is a new virus, most people are susceptible to catching it.
At this point, Public Health's disease testing focuses exclusively on hospitalized patients; as a result, the number of reported cases reflects a small proportion of all cases. Unlike the seasonal flu, H1N1 virus has caused a disproportionate number of cases and hospitalizations in younger people, with more than 80% of the hospitalized cases happening among people less than 50 years of age.
Public Health is working with health care, schools and other community partners to be ready. Individuals and families should begin planning now for possible school closures in the fall or winter and absences from work. Businesses and organizations can use the remainder of the summer months to prepare for a reduced work force if many become ill or need to stay at home.
Spokane Regional Health District provides individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations. Requests may be made by calling 324-1480 or TDD 324-1464.