Topeka (WIBW) - For the second day in a row, state health officials are reporting two deaths in northeast Kansas related to the H1N1 virus.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says one of the victims was a 39-year old woman from northeast Kansas. KDHE says she was hospitalized for influenza symptoms and had underlying health conditions that placed her at higher risk for influenza-related complications.
KDHE says the woman was confirmed to have the virus Sept. 3. Her death was reported to them Thursday.
The other victim is identified as a 30-year old woman from northeast Kansas. KDHE says she was also hospitalized for influenza symptoms and had underlying health conditions that increased her risk of influenza-related complications.
KDHE says laboratory testing confirmed she had the H1N1 virus on Sept. 18. Her death also was reported to KDHE Thursday.
KDHE announced Thursday two other H1N1-related deaths in northeast Kansas. Those patients were aged 16 and 30 and also had underlying health problems.
KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby and Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas State Health Officer, expressed sympathy and offered their deepest condolences to the family of the individual.
“The deaths being reported today make it very clear that this illness can be extremely severe for people with underlying health conditions,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said. “But severe complications and deaths have been reported among patients who have not had any underlying health problems that would have placed them at higher risk. It is so critical that people take seriously the potential dangers of this disease and recognize the importance of working towards preventing further spread and receiving the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.”
Additional information from KDHE:
The pandemic H1N1 virus, which is thought to have infected more than 1 million Americans, has been confirmed in 55 counties in Kansas. Visits to healthcare providers for influenza-like illness, which are tracked by KDHE, have been increasing in certain regions of the state over the past few weeks and are higher nationally than what is typically seen at this time of year. In most of the state’s cases, where confirmatory testing was done, flu symptoms have been relatively mild. However, hospitalization rates for H1N1 influenza have been similar to seasonal influenza, and are also higher nationally than what is typically seen at this time of year.
The symptoms of infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever greater than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.
KDHE is no longer accepting specimens from everyone who sees a doctor with symptoms. In non-hospitalized cases, confirmatory testing does not affect treatment and advice given to patients by health care providers.
Most children and adults with the flu who are generally in good health will recover without needing to visit a health care provider. Some people may want to call their health care provider for advice on how to care for the flu at home.
Individuals who experience severe illness or who are at high risk of complications from H1N1 influenza infection, including children less than 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and persons with chronic medical conditions (including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions), should contact their health care provider.
There is no vaccine available yet to protect against the pandemic H1N1 virus, but there are treatments that can shorten the course of illness in severe cases.
As with any influenza virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce spread:
·Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
·If you become sick, stay home until at least 24 hours after fever or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, in order to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.
·Cough or sneeze into a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues. If you do not have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow and not your hands.
·Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.
KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus. The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317. Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions.
Kansans with questions about the virus can email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov. Information is also available from KDHE at www.kdheks.gov.