Death is second in Oregon linked to the deadly virus
BY RUTH LIAO • STATESMAN JOURNAL
June 24, 2009
A young Marion County child has died from H1N1 influenza virus, also known as swine flu, Oregon public health officials said.
The child, whose name and gender is not being released by officials, died June 15 after suffering from a two-day fever.
The state public health laboratory confirmed on Tuesday that the child died of H1N1 influenza after testing was completed.
The child was younger than 5 years old and otherwise healthy, officials said.
The child did not visit a doctor or a hospital, and died at home, said Marion County public health officer Dr. Karen Landers.
County officials completed the public health investigation and have recommended medication for the child's close family, Landers said. The child was not in day care.
The child's death is the second fatality in Oregon because of the emerging flu strain, both in Marion County.
A Marion County woman died June 7 after she was hospitalized for eight days. The woman had other underlying health conditions.
The virus strain, what public health officials are calling novel H1N1, first began circulating in Marion County in May.
As of Tuesday, Marion County has 43 confirmed cases; of those, five people have been hospitalized. Polk County has reported 44 cases.
At least 219 confirmed cases of people sickened with H1N1 virus have been reported in Oregon, state public health officials said.
The World Health Organization declared a pandemic in response to the ongoing global spread of the virus. In the U.S., 87 deaths have been reported as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Landers said Marion County cases are continuing to be reported on a fairly steady basis.
Officials have determined that the severity H1N1 virus is no more dangerous than seasonal flu.
"Influenza, whether it's the seasonal flu or the new H1N1 virus, can be a serious illness, so people need to be aware of symptoms and call their medical provider," Landers said.
About 400 people a year die of the seasonal flu in Oregon.
"The majority are elderly, however, it's not unheard of that we have young kids who die," said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, interim state epidemiologist.
Certain groups, including children younger than 5 years, pregnant women and people older than 65, have an increased risk of complications from influenza.
If those who are identified as vulnerable develop a high fever with a cough, a sore throat or muscle aches, a health care provider should be notified, officials said.
To prevent the spread of infection, people should wash their hands frequently, cover their cough and stay home when sick.
Public health officials also are gearing up for the expected flu season this fall — a vaccine is available for the seasonal flu, but an H1N1 vaccine is still being developed.
"We don't know what's going to happen with this virus in the fall," Landers said.