BATON ROUGE— The Louisiana Department of Health today confirmed one Louisiana resident has died from complications from H1N1 flu (swine flu). The individual was identified as a 21-year-old woman from the Greater New Orleans area.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to this young woman’s family and friends,” said LDH Secretary Alan Levine. "It is important we all remain vigilant for symptoms of flu-like illness, and be serious about taking preventive measures against the spread of flu.”
To date, there have been 346 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Louisiana since the virus emerged in spring. Consistent with CDC guidelines, all cases are no longer being confirmed, as the virus has become so widespread.
Nationally, there have been more than 6,500 hospitalizations and 436 deaths attributed to H1N1, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that more than one million people became ill with novel H1N1 flu between April and June this year.
Using CDC’s model, State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard estimates that more than 15,000 Louisianans have become ill with novel H1N1 since April.
These figures are estimates only, because it is federal and state policy to test for H1N1 only if a patient is admitted to the hospital with flu-like illness. Complete statistics are not available because not all people with novel H1N1 flu seek medical care, and not all people who seek medical care have specimens collected by their health care provider.
State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry said, “We are continuing to plan with our state and federal partners for a possible resurgence of the virus in the fall. However, these plans and preparations will not be as effective unless Louisiana residents practice good hygiene habits and follow official public health advice to avoid spreading infections.”
These advised precautions are everyday actions that can help protect individuals and their families, while at the same time preventing the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- The CDC does not recommend the use of antivirals as a precautionary measure to prevent infection of any influenza virus. It should only be used for treatment of cases of influenza.
- If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, you should contact your physician. Your doctor will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
LDH is continuing to monitor the progress of the H1N1 flu to alert the public to any significant changes that would impact the public's health.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.