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Patient who died from H1N1 had other 'serious underlying medical conditions'

October 13, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

Health officials brief council on H1N1

HAGERSTOWN -- A Washington County Hospital patient who died after contracting H1N1, commonly referred to as swine flu, had "serious underlying medical conditions," according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

It is not clear if the person's death was attributed solely to H1N1 or to a combination of the disease and the underlying conditions, said Rod MacRae, spokesman for the Washington County Health Department.

MacRae said he could not identify the patient, say where the person lived or release the person's age or gender.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will report the death to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a press release from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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Although there has been much attention paid to swine flu, 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.

John M. Colmers, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a press release that people with underlying health conditions should contact their health care providers as soon as they experience flu-like illness.

"As with seasonal flu, we know H1N1 flu is on the rise as we move further into the normal flu season. As a result, we do expect to see more hospitalizations and deaths as the season progresses," Colmers said.

Health officials say vaccination is the best prevention against the flu.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough and sore throat. Additional symptoms might include chills, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea or shortness of breath.

To further prevent the spread of flu, health officials suggest the following:

o Washing your hands often

o Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing

o Staying home if you have flu symptoms

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