The Kansas Department of Health and Environment today confirmed the deaths of three people who were infected with the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus.


The Kansas Department of Health and Environment today confirmed the deaths of three people who were infected with the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus. None of the cases announced today had any underlying health conditions that placed them at greater risk of complications from H1N1 flu. Twelve people in Kansas have now reportedly died after being infected with H1N1.

The deaths occurred in the following individuals:

· A 52 year-old woman from the Wichita metropolitan area was confirmed to have pandemic H1N1 on Oct. 13. Her death was reported to KDHE on Oct. 27.

· A 39 year-old man from the Kansas City metropolitan area was confirmed to have pandemic H1N1 on Oct. 15, and his death was reported to KDHE on Oct. 28.

· A 51 year-old woman from the Topeka metropolitan area was confirmed with pandemic H1N1 on Oct. 27. This woman’s death was also reported to KDHE on Oct. 28.

KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby and Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas State Health Officer, expressed sympathy and offered their deepest condolences to the families involved.

“These deaths underscore the importance of doing everything that we can to protect ourselves and each other from H1N1,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said. “Besides vaccination and other preventive measures like frequent and thorough hand washing and properly covering coughs and sneezes, there are other steps that we can all take to significantly reduce our risk of catching and spreading flu viruses.”

According to Dr. Eberhart-Phillips, everyone should take the following health precautions:

* Monitor yourself and your family members every day for symptoms of influenza. Remain home at the first sign of illness. Try to limit the interaction between family members who are ill and those who are well. Remember individuals with symptoms of influenza should stay isolated and not return to school or work for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without taking fever-reducing medicine.

* Check to see if the schools and childcare facilities where your children attend monitor for illness and immediately isolate symptomatic children until they can be picked up.

Find out if concerts or athletic events are postponed or altered when there are high levels of influenza-like-illness among students and staff.

* At work, try to create space (at least 3 to 6 feet) between yourself and co-workers. Learn all you can about your employer’s policies for sick leave. Ask if there are ways that you can work remotely from home if illness is prevalent at your workplace.

The H1N1 vaccine has started to arrive in Kansas, but at this time in very limited quantities. Certain individuals are recommended to receive the vaccine earlier.

For more information on vaccine prioritization, please visit www.kdheks.gov/H1N1/H1N1_Vaccine.htm.

Up-to-date information on H1N1 vaccination clinics being held across the state can be found by going to www.kdheks.gov and clicking on “Where can I receive the H1N1 vaccine?”

The symptoms of infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever of 100 degrees or greater, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people who have been ill with pandemic H1N1 influenza have recovered without medical treatment.

However, some people develop serious complications that require hospitalization or may lead to death.

Although serious complications are more likely among persons with certain underlying chronic health conditions, this pandemic influenza virus has caused serious complications and deaths among persons without such factors.

Unlike typical seasonal influenza, the 2009 H1N1 virus is causing a greater disease burden among adolescents and young adults. Severe illness from H1N1 virus infection can even occur among relatively young, healthy persons.

KDHE is no longer accepting specimens from everyone who sees a doctor with symptoms.

In non-hospitalized cases, confirmatory testing does not affect treatment and advice given to patients by health care providers.

Most children and adults with the flu who are generally in good health will recover without needing to visit a health-care provider. Some people may want to call their health-care provider for advice on how to care for the flu at home.

Individuals who experience severe illness or who are at high risk of complications from H1N1 influenza infection, including children younger than 5, adults 65 or older, pregnant women, and persons with chronic medical conditions (including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions), should contact their health care provider.

Until people are able to be vaccinated against the virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce its spread:

· Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

· If you become sick, stay home until at least 24 hours after fever or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, in order to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.

· Cough or sneeze into a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues. If you do not have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow and not your hands.

· Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.

KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus.

The toll-free number is (877) 427-7317.

Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions.

Kansans with questions about the virus can email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov. Information is also available from KDHE at www.kdheks.gov.