Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) June 15 announced that a Twin Cities area child who was infected with the H1N1 novel influenza virus has died. The child, who had underlying medical conditions, was briefly hospitalized and died late last week. Laboratory tests subsequently determined that the child had the H1N1 novel influenza.
"Our sympathies go to the family and loved ones of the child who died," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield. "For most people, the H1N1 flu is causing mild illness; however, it can still be very serious, especially for people with underlying health conditions. That's why we continue to monitor the situation very closely."
To date, MDH officials have confirmed 274 cases of the novel virus in Minnesota, including this case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 45 deaths from the virus across the country.
"This flu is very widespread, and we expect to see many more cases across the state," Lynfield said. "That's why we continue to urge people to take simple precautions to prevent getting it or spreading it."
The MDH will continue its current efforts to track and respond to the H1N1 novel influenza outbreak in the state, following this week's decision by the World Health Organization to reclassify the outbreak as a Phase 6 pandemic.
MDH officials are tracking what appears to be a rapidly growing number of confirmed cases in Minnesota. They believe that the new virus has been widespread in the state since mid-May.
They emphasized that, while the worldwide H1N1 outbreak has now been designated as a "Phase 6 pandemic," the new WHO classification does not mean that illnesses caused by the virus are becoming more severe. It simply means that the virus is becoming more widespread throughout the world. Minnesota will continue monitoring H1N1 closely in the state.
The new influenza strain - which first appeared in late April - is making people ill in the state, even though the season for "regular" flu appears to be over. The number of confirmed cases in Minnesota has actually more than doubled over the last week alone, increasing from 96 on June 4 to 221 today (June 11). An average of 30 cases per day have been identified over the past three days. Most cases are not severe, and testing is targeted at people who are hospitalized, have underlying medical conditions or are pregnant, so most cases identified in Minnesota will be hospitalized cases. Some hospitalizations in young children have been because of dehydration, and hospitalizations have occurred in people with asthma and other underlying medical conditions. However, some hospitalizations have also occurred in people without underlying conditions. Most of the identified cases, including hospitalizations, have been in children, although patients have ranged in age up to 66 years.
Standard prevention recommendations include:
Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly - with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub solution.
Clean your hands after shaking hands or having other close contact with other people - before eating or preparing food, or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Limit your contact with others who may be ill.
Stay home from work or school - and generally avoid going out in public - if you are sick, remain home for seven days, or until 24 hours after your symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
Make sure to take enough fluids while you're sick.
If you are an employer, encourage your employees to stay home if they are sick.
If you do develop possible flu symptoms and you want to consult your health care provider, call before going in for an office visit. You may not need to go in, and if you do need to be seen, a time should be set up when you will not risk exposing others to influenza in the waiting room.
People at risk for severe flu or flu complications should contact their health care provider if they have flu symptoms or have been exposed to people with flu symptoms. Those individuals include people with an underlying medical condition, pregnant women, young children (especially under age two) and people 65 or older.
For more information about novel influenza, please visit the MDH Web site at www.health.state.mn.us, or contact your health-care provider.