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May 25, 2009

First H1N1Flu Related Death
Continued need to take preventive health measures

SPRINGFIELD – A Chicago-area resident has died from complications related to H1N1 influenza, the first death linked to this novel flu virus in Illinois, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, announced Monday.

Dr. Arnold said that in addition to having H1N1 influenza, the individual who died had other underlying medical conditions.  Due to the family's wishes for privacy, the Department will not release any other information about the case.

“I would like to extend my sympathies to the family for their loss,” said Dr. Arnold.  “With as many cases of H1N1 influenza that have been reported in Illinois, we have been concerned that there would be fatalities.  We know the virus is still circulating in the state and I would like to remind everyone, especially those with chronic medical conditions, to continue taking steps to keep from getting the flu.”

These steps include following the three C’s:
• Clean – properly wash your hands frequently
• Cover – cover your cough and sneeze
• Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick

Dr. Arnold advises anyone who has flu symptoms and an underlying health condition to contact a health care professional about treatment.  The elderly and children younger than 5-years of age with flu like symptoms should contact their physician he said.   

Symptoms of H1N1 flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.  Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well.  Anyone experiencing severe symptoms should seek medical care.

Persons considered at high-risk for complications of H1N1 virus infection are the same as those at high-risk from seasonal influenza.  As more epidemiologic and clinical data become available, these high-risk groups may be revised.

Groups at higher risk for seasonal influenza complications include:

• Children younger than 5-years-old  (risk for severe complications from seasonal influenza is highest among children younger than 2-years-old)
•  Pregnant women
•  Adults 65-years of age and older
•  Persons with the following conditions: Chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
• Adults and children who have immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by medications such as corticosteroids and chemotherapy, or diseases such as HIV/AIDS, adrenal disease, or lupus
• Persons younger than 19-years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

Dr. Arnold said the Department will continue to monitor the state for signs of increased virulence of H1N1 flu.



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