H1N1 Claims Three Local Fatalities

The Novel H1N1 virus, or swine flu, has claimed the lives of three San Diego County residents.

A 75-year-old male and a 49-year-old female were confirmed to have died as a result of the virus on June 29. The virus claimed its first victim last month when a 20-year-old San Marcos woman fell ill and died at a North County hospital just hours after arriving there.

“This is a tragic reminder that the H1N1 virus is still very much active in our community,” said County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten.

“Our sympathies are with her family and friends,” Wooten said. County Public Health staff treated the woman’s family with the anti-viral medicine Tamiflu to protect them from the virus.

Wooten reminded County residents that they still needed to be vigilant. Watch Wooten address the media.

Though Wooten had warned residents that deaths from the virus were likely, the news alarmed some residents who have been asking 2-1-1 operators how they can obtain Tamiflu.

Tamiflu does not inoculate a person against the virus. If taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu-like illness, Tamiflu will decrease the severity of the symptoms and their duration.

“We urge people not to panic. While it is a new virus, and people have no immunity to the virus, it is not highly contagious,” Wooten said.

So far, there have been 19 H1N1-related death in California. There have been deaths in Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

There have been 392 confirmed H1N1 cases and 25 hospitalizations in San Diego County. Wooten said the County would continue to monitor the virus and work with local, state and national health officials. She said it would be several months before a vaccine was developed.

People should follow these tips to prevent the spread of H1N1:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

For more information, call 2-1-1, or visit the County’s Web site.