First County H1N1 flu death reported

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 36-year-old male has become the first laboratory-confirmed H1N1 flu death in Indian River County, the county Health Department reported Tuesday.

According to the release, the man had underlying health conditions which may have played a role in his reaction after coming in contact with the virus. Health officials declined to provide further details as to the man’s health conditions that might have contributed to his death. They also declined to say what town he was from, citing patient confidentiality concerns.

Pregnant women, cancer patients, and people with asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, and kidney disease need to pay particular attention to personal hygiene, avoid close contact to infected persons, and consult with their healthcare provider regarding the influenza vaccine.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to this man’s family and friends,” said Miranda Swanson, health department administrator. “All of us should continue to be alert and practice good hygiene measures.”

How many people in Indian River County who have been diagnosed with H1N1 is not known. Health Department officials stopped tracking the number of cases in July, assuming that people who come down with the flu have the virus.

The majority of deaths from H1N1 flu in the United States have occurred in adults with underlying chronic health conditions, the health department release stated.

The new strain of H1N1 was first identified in Indian River County last April.

People should continue to wash their hands frequently, stay home from work or school if they feel ill, and cover their mouths with a tissue or their sleeve if they are coughing. These common-sense precautions will greatly reduce the risk of transmission of all flu viruses whether seasonal or H1N1, according to the release.

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