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For Release: June 8, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

First Oklahoma Novel H1N1 Influenza A (Swine Flu) Death Reported

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today that a 43-year-old male from Kay County is the state’s first novel H1N1 influenza A (swine flu) death in the state.
The patient had sought medical care for his flu symptoms but had not been hospitalized. He did have underlying chronic medical conditions, including asthma.

“We are very sad to learn of this death and our sympathies go out to this man’s family,” said Interim Commissioner of Health Rocky McElvany.

State health officials report the new H1N1 flu virus continues to circulate in Oklahoma. Currently, 109 cases have been confirmed in the state, while one Oklahoman living out of state has also been confirmed with the disease. To date, 18 Oklahoma counties report one or more confirmed cases of novel influenza. Nationally, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 13,217 cases and 27 deaths attributed to the H1N1 flu.

“While those who have acquired the novel H1N1 influenza A virus have generally reported only mild illness, because this is a new flu virus, most people have little or no immunity against it, and the illness may be more severe for some,” McElvany said. “Tragically, regular seasonal influenza results in some 36,000 deaths occurring nationally each year. Thus, it is not a surprise that Oklahoma has recorded its first death from the new flu.”

At this time there is no vaccine to protect against the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. The OSDH continues to urge the public to practice the following simple precautions:
-- Wash hands often to protect yourself from germs.
-- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are often spread when a person touches a contaminated object, and then touches his eyes, nose or mouth.
-- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
-- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or “sneeze in your sleeve.”
-- If you are sick, stay home from work, school, church, and running errands. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

Oklahomans can stay informed on the latest news regarding H1N1 influenza by visiting www.health.ok.gov and www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu, or by contacting your local county health department.

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