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County has first death attributed to swine flu

October 12, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- A patient at Washington County Hospital has died of H1N1, commonly referred to as swine flu, according to Washington County Health Department spokesman Rod MacRae.

MacRae said Monday night the death was the first associated with swine flu in the county, as far as health officials know.

MacRae said he was notified of the death Monday, but he did not know when the patient died or if the deceased was male or female.

MacRae said communicable disease experts from his department will look into the death and more details will be gathered. He said he did not know whether that information will be released due to patient confidentiality issues.

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MacRae said his department will contact the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about the death and more information might be released Tuesday.

MacRae said the public needs to realize that "any flu" can be serious and that seasonal flu alone causes about 36,000 deaths a year in the United States.

There is nothing to indicate that swine flu is more serious than seasonal flu, MacRae said.

"It's just an extra one we have to contend with," MacRae said.

There have been nine swine flu deaths in Maryland since June 1 and 217 hospitalized cases due to the disease, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Web site.

Washington County Hospital officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.

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