Logan County sees first death from H1N1
By ALYSSA HARVEY, The Daily News, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, November 21, 2009 12:07 AM CST
State and local health officials have reported the first H1N1-related death in Logan County.
The man, who was in his 50s, had few underlying medical conditions, local infectious disease physician Rebecca Shadowen said.
“He had rapid onset respiratory failure,” she said. “Despite all efforts, he did not survive.”
The man’s death follows that of an 18-year-old Allen County woman with few underlying health problems. She was the first confirmed H1N1 death in Allen County, Shadowen said.
“We regret any losses to this disease or any serious infections,” she said.
Shadowen said it is imperative that people try to prevent the spread of flu, whether it is H1N1 or the seasonal flu.
“That means stay home when we’re sick, seek medical care when we’re ill, do proper social etiquette - which is cough or sneeze in your sleeve, wash your hands frequently and avoid others when you’re sick,” she said. “This underscores the potential value of the vaccination program for H1N1 and seasonal flu.”
Teresa Casey, nurse program manager for the communicable disease team at the Barren River District Health Department, added that people should avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth after touching other surfaces and not travel, particularly with the approaching holidays.
“That’s an easy way to spread germs,” she said. “If you’re not well, don’t travel, whether it’s across town or across the country.”
More than 4,856 people in the eight-county district - Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Simpson and Warren counties - received the H1N1 vaccine during clinics last weekend, Casey said. Upcoming flu clinics are already full.
“We are expecting weekly allotments of flu vaccines,” she said. “As we get those vaccines in, we will be planning further clinics.”
Shadowen recommends that people at high risk for H1N1 get the vaccine. This includes pregnant women, health care and emergency medical services workers, people caring for children younger than 6 months old, people ages 6 months to 24 years - particularly those with chronic health problems and people ages 25 to 64 with chronic health problems.
“We’re asking that people over the age of 65 delay getting the vaccine until after the first of the year in order to get the target groups taken care of first,” she said. “The government has made a commitment to make as much H1N1 vaccine for anyone who wants it.”
Shadowen said now is not the time for the public to panic about H1N1 or the vaccines.
“The actual number of cases has decreased within the last two weeks in our region even though we still have widespread activity,” she said. “This represents the natural course of a pandemic and has not deviated from the predictions of the national health care experts.”
— For more information, call Kentucky’s toll-free hot line at (877) 843-7727 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily,
visit healthalerts.ky.gov or follow KYHealthAlerts on Twitter.