A Contra Costa County child has died with the novel H1N1 flu virus (swine flu), the first such death in California, Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), announced today.
“The death of this child is a tragic reminder of the threat posed by influenza,” Horton said. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the child’s family and friends. Unfortunately, we expect more deaths and illnesses from this new influenza virus.”
The child was of elementary school-age. The California Public Health Laboratory at Richmond confirmed that the child was infected with the novel H1N1 virus. The child also had a secondary bacterial infection.
The child is the third Californian to die with the novel H1N1 flu virus. A San Bernardino County man and a Los Angeles County woman, both middle-aged and with underlying health conditions, died last month. California has reported 576 confirmed and 226 probable illnesses due to the novel H1N1 flu virus. (Updated case totals will be available on the CDPH Web site after 3:00 p.m. today.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 100,000 people nationwide have been infected with the virus. Of the reported illnesses, nearly two-thirds are young people ages 5 to 24.
Currently nationwide, 20 deaths from the virus have been reported. The CDC estimates that each year between 50 and 100 children die from seasonal influenza. In California six children have died from seasonal influenza this year.
The symptoms of exposure to the novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
Horton said that California continues to report new cases of the novel H1N1 flu virus and seasonal flu, even though flu season typically wanes by this time of year. He urges Californians to take the following steps to avoid becoming ill with the flu or passing it on to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you are ill.
- Get immunized against seasonal influenza this coming fall.