The Louisiana Department of Health today confirmed that two additional residents of the state have died from complications related to the 2009 H1N1 flu, bringing the total of H1N1-related deaths in the state to six. One individual was a female child (12 years old or younger) from LDH health region 1 (the Greater New Orleans area) and one individual was a female young adult from LDH health region 9, the region including St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.
The department will not release other personal details about the individuals to protect the privacy of the individuals and their families.
"What we are seeing in terms of these tragic losses is that they seem to be consistent with the trends being experienced nationally," said LDH Secretary Alan Levine. "Because individuals with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to develop severe complications from H1N1, the Department strongly encourages those with pre-existing conditions to seek medical advice from their medical provider immediately."
Levine added, "Any loss of life is tragic, but none more so than the loss of a young person. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these young people. If you have a child with a pre-existing medical condition, such as a respiratory or cardiac condition, diabetes, or any other co-occurring medical condition, please make sure your child knows to report any illness or symptoms immediately, and make sure they see a physician. Similarly, if you are pregnant, and experience any symptoms, you should see your physician immediately. Louisiana's physicians are responding and are aware of the CDC guidelines for treatment for people who are at risk. In most cases, the treatment for high risk populations involves the use of antivirals, which are readily available."
Because the H1N1 virus spreads easily from person to person through droplets transmitted in coughs and sneezes, the department continues to advise residents to practice good hygiene habits and follow official public health advice to avoid spreading 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, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- 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. Antivirals should only be used for treatment of cases of influenza based on CDC guidelines and the judgment of a physician. There are potential side effects to the use of anti-virals and people should always consult their physician before using them.
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. For more information on flu activity in Louisiana, including guidance for families and medical professionals, visit www.flula.com.
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.