News

First H1N1 related death reported

The first death attributed to the H1N1 novel influenza virus has been recorded in Minnesota.

A Twin Cities area child with underlying health conditions died late last week after a brief hospitalization. Laboratory tests subsequently determined that the child had the H1N1 novel influenza.

According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield, in most cases, the H1N1 flu is causing mild illness; however, she said it can still be very serious, especially for people with underlying health conditions.

“This flu is very widespread, and we expect to see many more cases across the state,” Dr. Lynfield said. “That’s why we continue to urge people to take simple precautions to prevent getting it or spreading it.”

To date, MDH officials have confirmed 274 cases of the novel virus in Minnesota, including this case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 45 deaths from the virus across the country. There still have been no confirmed cases of H1N1 novel influenza A in Northfield, but officials at Northfield Hospital & Clinics are actively monitoring the situation and taking standard precautions to deal with an outbreak should one occur.

Standard prevention recommendations for influenza include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly – with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub solution.
  • Clean your hands after shaking hands or having other close contact with other people – before eating or preparing food, or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Limit your contact with others who may be ill.
  • Stay home from work or school – and generally avoid going out in public – if you are sick, remain home for seven days, or until 24 hours after your symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
  • Make sure to take enough fluids while you’re sick.
  • If you are an employer, encourage your employees to stay home if they are sick.
  • If you do develop possible flu symptoms and you want to consult your health care provider, call before going in for an office visit. You may not need to go in, and if you do need to be seen, a time should be set up when you will not risk exposing others to influenza in the waiting room.
  • People at risk for severe flu or flu complications should contact their health care provider if they have flu symptoms or have been exposed to people with flu symptoms. Those individuals include people with an underlying medical condition, pregnant women, young children (especially under age two) and people 65 or older.

For more information about novel influenza, please visit the MDH Web site at www.health.state.mn.us or contact your health care provider.