Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2009

CONTACTS
Michele Bever, Director, South Heartland District Health Department, (402) 462-6211
Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or
marla.augustine@nebraska.gov

Sound bites from Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer, will be available athttp://www.dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/audio.aspx.

Nebraska Has Second H1N1 Death

Lincoln —The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the second death of a Nebraska resident due to novel H1N1 influenza virus. The patient was a woman in her 50s who resided in Adams County. The woman had several chronic, underlying health conditions, including asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Because of state statutes, the name and other details about the patient can’t be released.

“My condolences to her family and friends,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer. “H1N1 can be a very serious illness for those who have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and asthma, or who have compromised immune systems.”

“Loss of life is tragic, and our sympathies go out to her family,” said Michele Bever, Executive Director of the South Heartland District Health Department. “Unfortunately, H1N1 influenza is circulating in Adams and surrounding counties, and we expect more cases of illness now that school is in session.”

The level of flu in the state is “sporadic,” which is what has been reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DHHS no longer keeps track of individual cases and follows the CDC’s policy for reporting levels of flu. “Sporadic” means that there are small numbers of lab-confirmed cases or a single lab-confirmed outbreak has been reported, but there has been no increase in cases of influenza-like illness since the last reporting period. The Department will continue to keep track of deaths from H1N1.

To determine the level of flu in the state, DHHS takes reports from the local health departments of hospitalizations for influenza-like illness, results from over 80 reporting laboratories in the state and reports from 18 sentinel physicians about the numbers of cases of influenza-like illness they are seeing in their offices.

“This will be a long flu season,” Dr. Schaefer said. “Everyone has a responsibility in protecting the community by taking precautions.”

Precautions to take to avoid getting the flu or avoid giving it to others:

  • Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

Advice

Most people who get H1N1 recover on their own without additional treatment. If you are only mildly ill, you don’t need to seek treatment.

If you are moderately to severely ill with a cough or sore throat and a fever over 100 degrees, particularly if you have underlying medical conditions, call your physician. A physician may prescribe an antiviral, which can lessen the symptoms and possibly shorten the duration of your illness. Your physician may feel comfortable treating you without being seen if you have serious underlying health conditions.

People who are sick should stay home from work or school for 24 hours after their fever ends. Parents should have a plan on how to keep their child home if he or she becomes ill.

Additional symptoms of H1N1 are body aches and sometimes may include vomiting and diarrhea.

For more information, see the DHHS Web site: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/flu.aspx and subscribe to updates for the most current information. For a list of local health departments go to: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/puh_oph_lhd.aspx.

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