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Isles' latest flu-related deaths are younger men


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POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2009

Two more Hawaii deaths related to swine flu have been confirmed by the state Health Department, making a total of six deaths related to the novel H1N1 influenza A virus since the outbreak began May 5.

The department said yesterday that a man in his early 20s died July 21 at home on Oahu and that another man in his early 30s died July 22, shortly after being taken to a hospital on Oahu.

Both had underlying medical conditions contributing to their death, the department said.

“;We are very concerned that neither had contacted a physician about their illness,”; Health Director Chiyome Fukino said in a news release.

“;Anyone who has flulike symptoms such as high fever, cough and sore throat and is experiencing difficulty breathing, or has other concerning symptoms such as mental confusion or lethargy, should seek emergency medical care and consult a physician.”;

The department released no details about the patients or their medical conditions, citing privacy considerations and federal law.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed yesterday to increased influenza risks for pregnant women, advising those with flulike illness to be treated as soon as possible, without waiting for an influenza test.

The two latest victims are the youngest to die. Others were:

» A man in his 50s who died July 19 at a Big Island hospital.

» A woman in her early 50s who died July 7 at Kona Community Hospital.

» An Oahu man in his late 40s who died July 10 at the Queen's Medical Center.

» An Oahu woman in her late 60s who died June 19 at Tripler Army Medical Center.

All had underlying medical conditions, according to the department, which described such conditions as obesity, smoking, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory problems.

“;Influenza can be a serious and fatal illness for those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems,”; Fukino said.

“;Taking care of your health with good nutrition, regular physical activity, regular health checkups and plenty of rest can reduce your risk for complications from the flu. It is also always a good time to stop smoking.”;

Most people infected with swine flu in Hawaii have recovered at home without requiring medical treatment, health officials said.

It is not known how many swine flu cases have occurred in the islands. Both the department and CDC have stopped reporting the number of cases because the illness is continuing to spread, similar to seasonal flu.

The last CDC report, last Friday, listed Hawaii with 1,424 cases and three deaths. Current data indicates influenza activity is increasing in Hawaii, the department said.