Big Isle woman's death is linked to swine flu


POSTED: Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Big Island woman in her 50s became the third person in Hawaii whose death has been linked to swine flu, the state Health Department confirmed yesterday.

The woman, who had several severe chronic underlying medical conditions, died July 7 at the Kona Community Hospital, the Health Department said in a news release.

“;Although flu (H1N1 Influenza A) was the primary cause of death for this individual, she had serious underlying medical conditions that exacerbated her condition and contributed to her decline and death,”; said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division. “;We all need to take care of ourselves and be as healthy as we can be to maximize our ability to fight off infection.”;

Due to patient privacy and federal law, the Health Department said it is not releasing any further information.

The earlier deaths were an Oahu man in his late 40s and an Oahu woman in her late 60s, both with underlying medical conditions.

The man died at the Queen's Medical Center and the woman at Tripler Army Medical Center, according to the Health Department.

All of the major Hawaiian islands except Lanai have been hit by the virus.

Hawaii has had more than 1,000 cases of H1N1 since the first three were confirmed May 5, said Janice Okubo, Health Department spokeswoman. The exact number was not released.

The Health Department stopped listing the number of cases several weeks ago. Instead, it is reporting the data to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was listing total cases for all states every Friday on its Web site.

However, the CDC's report for Hawaii yesterday was the same as a week ago, with a total of 722 cases and one death for Hawaii.

Okubo said the CDC also has stopped listing total swine flu cases for the states.

Health officials expect the swine flu to spread through the community, similar to seasonal influenza.