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H1N1-related Death in County

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

A Mills County adult is among the latest victims of the H1N1 influenza virus.

The Mills county resident, who was listed only as a male, in the Iowa Department of Public Health release, is the first in the county to die from the virus. The state lists the Mills County death with three other death in Dubuque, Polk and Monona counties in last Wednesday's press release. All but one individual had medical conditions that increased the risk of complications, according to the press release. The latest death brings the state's death toll to 11.

The name of the Mills County adult who died Tuesday has not been released.

Sherri Bowen, director of Mills County Public Health, did say the individual who died from Mills County did have “other underlying health problems” that contributed to the death but declined to elaborate.

“All I can tell you is this individual wasn't healthy. They had other health issues,” she said.

Bowen said reports of confirmed cases in Mills County and the 18-county public health region of which Mills is a part have become so prevalent only hospitalized cases are currently being tracked. Bowen said there have been nearly 100 hospitalized cases of the H1N1 virus in the state.

The virus has killed 1,300 nationally since an initial out-break last fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Symptoms of H1N1 influenza are similar to seasonal influenza and include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people with H1N1 flu also have diarrhea and vomiting.

Mills County Public Health recently received a shipment of 1,200 H1NI vaccinations. Half of those vaccinations have been distributed to area clinics, pharmacies and the Glenwood Resource Center for those in the “high risk” of infection category. Bowen said the groups who receive vaccinations aren’t being prioritized one group over another, but there are definitely areas that are being targeted as the highest risk of contracting the virus.

Pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age, health care workers, all individuals aged six months to 24 years and those ages 25 to 64 with chronic health problems are at the higher risk for influenza-related complications, are at the greatest risk of infection and will be vaccinated first.

“If I was an adult with a chronic health issue, I would definitely be trying to access this vaccine,” Bowen said.

Public health is currently distributing vaccinations to these higher risk groups on an appointment and priority system. Bowen said this shipment of vaccinations should satisfy most individuals at risk in the six months to age 24 group.

Public health is planning to hold a walk-in, vaccination clinic at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church on Nov. 19 to meet further demand for the vaccine in the county. Bowen hopes to vaccinate as many “at risk” county residents as supplies will allow at that clinic.

“We are asking only those priority group people who fit in those categories to come (to the walk-in clinic). If you’re a healthy 55-year-old or a 68-year-old, I will have to say ‘I’m sorry we can’t serve you.’ You have to fit in those groups or you will be turned away,” she said.

H1N1-virus vaccination information, clinic details and vaccination consent forms are available at the Mills County Public Health website (mcph.millscoia.us).