Maine CDC Press Release

November 6, 2009

Maine Records Second Death of Resident Related to H1N1

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH
Or John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications
(207) 287-5012

Young Adult Had Serious Underlying Medical Conditions

AUGUSTA – A Penobscot County young adult is the second death linked to H1N1 influenza in Maine, and the first since August, the Maine CDC in the Department of Health and Human Services said today.

"It is with great sadness that we have learned of a Penobscot County young adult (age 18 – 25) who died recently of H1N1 influenza. The young person had serious underlying medical conditions," said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC. "We extend our deepest sympathy to this man’s family and friends. While most people with H1N1 in Maine and the nation have had a relatively mild infection, this news demonstrates how severe influenza can be, especially in those with underlying conditions, pregnant women and children."

The young man died earlier this week at home and was not attending a local college or university. His name and the date of his death are not being released to help protect the privacy of the family. Upon learning of the death and of the possibility that the man had influenza symptoms, the Maine CDC called the Medical Examiner. An autopsy was performed and tests conducted by the Maine CDC’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory confirmed the diagnosis of the pandemic strain of H1N1 influenza.

Since first being recognized in April 2009, novel influenza A (H1N1) has spread across the globe. In June, a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. Children and young adults are disproportionately affected by H1N1, accounting for the majority of confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. In August, a York County man in his 50s was the first Maine resident to die of the pandemic strain of H1N1. Over the past two weeks, H1N1 has become widespread in Maine. This past week, 25 schools have experienced high absentee rates, 10 people have been hospitalized, including four children.

“People should assume they will be exposed to the H1N1 influenza at some point, and with very limited vaccine supplies in Maine right now, we should all take precautions to prevent serious illness”, said Dr. Mills. These precautions include:

  • When vaccine is available, consider getting both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines.
  • Contact your health care provider if there are flu-like symptoms in a household in which anyone is younger than 2 years old, 65 years or older, pregnant, and/or has an underlying medical condition. There are prescription medicines (antivirals such as TamifluŽ) that may help reduce the severity and duration of the illness.

  • Although most people can stay home without seeing a health care provider, anyone with the flu should seek medical attention for:
    • Dehydration
    • Trouble breathing
    • Getting better, then suddenly getting a lot worse
    • Any major change in one’s condition
  • Stay home if you are sick, until you are fever-free for a full 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, or into a tissue. Throw this tissue away.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, but especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol-based hand gels can also be used.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. Germs can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid contact with sick people. If you are at very high risk for complication, you may want to avoid large crowds.

"We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness, so it is important that we all redouble our prevention efforts to limit the spread of this illness and to prepare for continued expansion of H1N1," said Dr. Mills.

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