Health officials stress awareness as the isle swine flu toll rises by 2


POSTED: Thursday, January 21, 2010

Two deaths from swine flu—one in late December and another last week—have raised Hawaii's toll to 13 since the first cases of the virus were confirmed here May 5, 2009.

Both recent deaths were Oahu residents, a woman in her 30s and a man in his 50s, the state Health Department said in a news release yesterday.

“;This is a sobering reminder that influenza is a serious illness that can be fatal,”; Health Director Chiyome Fukino said.

She urged residents to get vaccinated for H1N1 influenza if they haven't already done so. “;Vaccine supplies are now widely available and the flu season is still with us, so please don't wait to get this protection against the flu.”;

;[Preview]  Hawaii's latest H1N1 related deaths

Two more people in Hawaii have died from complications of the H1N1 flu.

Watch ]






        Adults should heed these emergency warning signs of possible swine flu:

» Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
        » Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
        » Sudden dizziness.
        » Mental confusion.
        » Severe or persistent vomiting.
        » Flulike symptoms improve, then return with fever and a worse cough.


Emergency signs in children include:


» Fast breathing or trouble breathing.
        » Bluish or gray skin color.
        » Not drinking enough fluids.
        » Severe or persistent vomiting.
        » Not waking up or not interacting.
        » Being so irritable he/she doesn't want to be held.
        » Flulike symptoms that improve, and then return with fever and a worse cough.


Source: State Department of Health





        For more information on H1N1 influenza and where to get vaccinated, visit or call Aloha United Way at 2-1-1. The Health Department is on Twitter at



The woman died while hospitalized for pneumonia in late December and the man died after being admitted to a hospital last week, the Health Department said.

The woman had underlying conditions that contributed to her death, said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. The case wasn't reported earlier because of some trouble subtyping it, she said.

She said she couldn't discuss specifics of the woman's case, but generally underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of H1N1 infections include smoking, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory difficulties.

She said the man apparently had flu symptoms and trouble breathing, but delayed going to a doctor. “;If you have flu symptoms and trouble breathing, if you feel like you're getting better, then you feel worse, don't delay seeing a doctor,”; Okubo said.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and Disease Outbreak Control Division chief, said, “;These very different cases illustrate the importance of paying attention to risk factors.

“;In one case, we see the increased risk for those suffering from chronic conditions and weakened immune systems. The other case is a reminder to otherwise healthy individuals that flulike illness can rapidly worsen and to be aware of serious symptoms requiring prompt medical attention.”;

Park said flulike illnesses appear comparable to Hawaii's five-year average at this time, “;so it is stable.”; But what would be Hawaii's regular flu season is just starting “;and we do not know what may come in future months,”; she added.

“;Fortunately, we are seeing more morbidity than mortality here,”; but illness can impact the lives of people who can't afford to take off from work or hire day care, she said.

Park said Hawaii “;seems to be in a good spot right now”; as many people in priority groups and others have been and are continuing to be vaccinated. At least 500,000 doses of vaccine have been shipped or are in transit here for providers.

“;We're hopeful that this will translate to a lack of a second wave for us, but it's too soon to tell,”; she said.