The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced this morning the first documented death in the state associated with H1N1 influenza.
"It saddens me greatly to report that a Midlands-area child died last week from complications associated with H1N1, stated DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter in a release. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends. This is a tragic reminder that this influenza virus is here, active in our state and can be deadly.
Mr. Hunter stated today that the child, whose name and age were not in the release, had serious underlying health problems before contracting H1N1.
DHEC spokesman Thom Berry said that the state already has had more than 500 H1N1 cases reported statewide in South Carolina, but officials say the cases theyve seen have been similar in severity to seasonal influenza.
That said,Its important to remember that seasonal influenza also kills thousands of people each year in this country," stated Jerry Gibson, chief of DHECs Bureau of Disease Control. "We strongly recommend that everyone take sensible steps to protect themselves.
Those steps, according to DHEC, include:
Washing your hands frequently;
Covering your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throwing away the tissue immediately and washing your hands, or using your upper sleeve if no tissue is available;
Staying home if you are sick;
Staying away from others who appear to be sick;
Strengthening your resistance to illness by eating properly, exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest;
Being alert for the upcoming availability of the H1N1 vaccine.