Categorized | H1N1 Flu (swine flu), Health, News

DOH confirms first Hawaii death involving H1N1 flu

MEDIA RELEASE

The state Department of Health has confirmed novel H1N1 influenza infection likely contributed to underlying medical conditions that caused the death of an adult in her late 60’s on June 19 at Tripler Army Medical Center.  

The Oahu resident is the first death in Hawaii associated with the new flu strain and one of more than 100 reported nationwide during the last two months. No further information about the patient’s medical condition before death or identification will be released due to patient privacy considerations and federal law.   

The first hospitalization of an adult with novel H1N1 influenza within the state was confirmed June 27. The Oahu resident with underlying health issues developed pneumonia as a 

complication of their H1N1 infection. The individual is responding to treatment and recovering in the hospital. 

“These two new severe cases of novel H1N1 are a sad reminder of the seriousness of influenza, particularly for those at-risk for complications,” said Dr. Sarah Park, chief of the DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division. “Unfortunately, we knew this would happen eventually, as we have flu-related deaths and hospitalizations every year from regular seasonal influenza.” 

Park added, ”The influenza infection itself was not the primary cause of death in this case, it was a contributing factor to the patient’s already declining condition due to multiple serious health issues.” 

Cases of novel H1N1 influenza have been identified on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, and Molokai with the majority of cases confirmed on Oahu.  

Most recently, the DOH confirmed an outbreak of novel H1N1 among firefighters on Molokai with reportedly 20 workers or more than half of the staff becoming ill.  

The DOH has been working with local organizations to provide information to the community on prevention measures, and Tuesday will be sending public health staff to Molokai to conduct additional education and outreach efforts due to this new outbreak. 

“The situation on Molokai shows how influenza can affect basic central services and cripple limited resources,” Park said. “It is so important that we all continue to consider and plan for the impact a flu pandemic can have on our workplaces, schools, and communities.” 

The DOH has confirmed a total of 545 cases of novel H1N1 since May 5. Of these cases, all but three have recovered or are recovering at home with no complications. One adult resident is hospitalized on Oahu; one adult that resides on Maui became ill after traveling to Washington state in May, was hospitalized and recovered in Washington before returning home; and one death occurred on Oahu as a result of complications from the flu. 

— Find out more:

State Department of Health: hawaii.gov/health/about/H1N1.h…

Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

World Health Organization: www.who.int/en/

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