Flu bug might return

A King County girl died July 18 from complications of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) and her underlying health conditions. This is the second reported H1N1 death in King County.

There also was a recent casualty in Pierce County.

“Our hearts go out to this child’s family,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle and King County. “This tragedy reminds us that the H1N1 virus is still here and children, particularly those with underlying health conditions, are at increased risk for more serious infections. As we expect the virus to become more widespread in the fall, children’s health will be a primary concern for us.”

Several countries in the Southern Hemisphere are currently experiencing widespread H1N1 outbreaks and health officials are anticipating increased flu activity in the United States and locally as soon as September, when most schools open for the fall. Public Health continues to monitor for new infections locally, including testing hospitalized patients suspected of H1N1 infection.

Efforts are under way to develop an H1N1 vaccine that could be available locally later in the year. While the amounts and delivery dates are uncertain at this time, Public Health – Seattle and King County is working with local and state partners to determine the most effective way to distribute vaccine to those recommended to receive it as it becomes available.

Public Health encourages the community to prepare now for the expected resurgence of H1N1 in the fall:

• Individuals and families should make plans now for keeping themselves and their children at home and away from work, school and child cares if they are ill until they are no longer infectious. This also means working with schools to assure learning continues at home whenever possible.

• Businesses and organizations should use the summer months to prepare for a reduced work force if many become ill or need to stay at home. Employers are also encouraged whenever possible to allow for flexibility in sick leave policies so that staff may stay home and not infect others, as well as care for sick family members and children.

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