Southeast Missouri death attributed to H1N1

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- H1N1 has claimed one life in this area, according to officials.

Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center confirmed a patient died at the beginning of last week from H1N1 Influenza A. Also known as swine flu, H1N1 is a strain of Influenza A.

A person from Ripley County died last week and had Influenza A, said Ripley County Health Center Director Jan Morrow. Morrow said she has not seen a report stating the cause of death or that an H1N1 test was done. About 98 percent of patients with Influenza A also test positive for H1N1.

The patient, in his 30s, had other underlying health issues, Morrow said.

"At this time, the family is very distraught and that's our focus," she said. "We know this is a very tough time for them."

PBRMC cannot release any other information about the patient, said Director of Marketing Tiffany Jenkins.

The hospital is working with the health department as they investigate this incident, according to a press release from PBRMC.

"We are committed to protecting the privacy of our patients, therefore it's not fair or appropriate to the patient or family to go into any further detail," reads the document, which also states, "(W)e are following the strict guidelines and recommendations set forth by the health department and the (Center for Disease Control) regarding the treatment of patients who have suspected or confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza A."

People ill with H1N1, as well as other types of influenza, are treated with antiviral drugs.

Area health departments continue to make plans for release of the H1N1 vaccine, expected to be available in mid to late October.

Some 15 people in Ripley County have tested positive for H1N1 and seven for Influenza A, Morrow said.

Butler County has had 18 people test positive for H1N1 and 33 for Influenza A, said Butler County Health Department Nurse Sherri Dodson.

There have been fewer than 1,000 deaths nationwide related to H1N1, according to the CDC. In Missouri, those include a 44-year-old man from St. Louis County, a 24-year-old woman from Independence and possibly a 14-year-old girl, also from St. Louis County.

About 30,000 people die each year from seasonal flu, Morrow said.

Everyone should remember to wash their hands frequently and continue doing all the things that help reduce the spread of any virus, Morrow said. People who are sick should seek medical treatment and stay home, she continued.

Jenkins also said in providing a safe environment for those in the hospital's care, it has well established rules for thorough and proper hand washing, extensive sanitizing measures, and daily health checks.

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