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Second swine flu-related death occurs in isles


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POSTED: Sunday, July 12, 2009

A second person who tested positive for H1N1 Influenza A (swine flu) in Hawaii has died, but underlying medical conditions may have been involved, according to the state Department of Health.

Spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the department had laboratory confirmation of a death associated with the H1N1 virus late Friday but won't have any details on the case until tomorrow.

Hawaii has had a total of 722 cases of swine flu since May 5 when the first three cases were confirmed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Hawaii's first death connected with swine flu was an Oahu woman in her late 60s with underlying medical conditions. She died June 19 at Tripler Army Medical Center, according to a the Health Department.

The CDC listed a total of 37,246 cases of the new virus and 211 deaths in the United States since the new H1N1 virus began to spread in March and April.

A summit of state delegations called by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Maryland Friday emphasized that “;this is not going away any time soon,”; said Dr. Sarah Park, chief of the state Health Department's communicable disease division.

Hawaii didn't have a delegation there “;but I was up early watching,”; she said. “;We need to plan and prepare. We need to get messages out constantly to folks about washing hands, covering a cough or sneeze and staying home from work or school if sick. Public health education is key.”;

She said “;counting cases”; isn't helpful to those performing disease surveillance. “;It's looking for specific types of cases.”;

The department has asked Hawaii physicians to look for severely ill cases to test or people at high risk for severe illness because of underlying conditions, she said.

More than 50 summer camp outbreaks have been reported on the mainland and there have been reports of clusters of illness here that the department is investigating, Park said.

Summer camp and program directors also are asked to call the Disease Investigation Branch at 586-4586 if they notice a cluster of flu-like illnesses or more than they would usually expect, she said. “;Outbreaks could be an indication that something has changed about the virus.”;