DOH CONFIRMS 4th HAWAII DEATH INVOLVING H1N1

July 24, 2009, 1:58 PM HST · Updated July 24, 2:59 PM
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Hawaii health officials have confirmed a fourth death in the state involving the novel H1N1 influenza.

The patient was identified as an adult male who died on July 19 at a hospital on the Big Island.  Health officials say the man was in his early 50’s and had underlying medical conditions.  The Hawaii Island resident is the fourth death in the state associated with the new flu strain, and one of more than 300 reported nationwide over the past few months according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The primary cause of death was influenza pneumonia, but the patient’s underlying medical conditions were a contributing factor,” said Dr. Sarah Park, chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division and state epidemiologist.

“The department currently is focusing its investigation and testing on critical cases and focused clusters as a way to monitor when this pandemic virus might change to something that causes more severe disease.”

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Recent data collected by the DOH suggests that influenza activity in Hawai’i has increased and is above the levels normally seen at this time of year.  The most common influenza virus strains circulating in Hawai’i at this time are the novel influenza A (H1N1) and seasonal influenza A (H3N2).

The state Department of Health advises the public to stay at home when sick and isolate themselves form others whenever possible.

“We are receiving reports about situations where people return to work while still ill and then put others at risk,” Dr. Park said.

“It is so important for everyone to use good health hygiene to reduce the amount of illness in our community,” said Park.

Tips to prevent the spread of influenza is as follows:

  • Stay at home when you are sick; isolate yourself from others whenever possible;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of used tissues;
  • Wash your hands frequently, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Seek care if you have influenza-like illness (fever > 100°F plus cough or sore throat); and
  • Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting plenty of rest and exercise.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by the Hawaii State Department of Health)

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