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Kentucky has second confirmed H1N1 death

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Louisville woman became the second
Kentuckian to die from complications of swine flu, but health
officials said the virus gaining a foothold in the state isn't
picking up strength.
The 41-year-old woman's death on Sept. 21 was caused by
pneumonia related to swine flu, officials said.
The death was reported a few days before the scheduled first
arrival of swine flu vaccine in Kentucky. The flu outbreak prompted
school officials to cancel classes in some Kentucky districts this
week.
The latest victim had no apparent underlying medical conditions,
making her death unusual for swine flu cases, said Dr. Adewale
Troutman, director of the Louisville Metro Public Health and
Wellness Department.
In the state's previous swine flu death, officials said the
victim - a Fayette County woman in her 50s - had "significant
underlying health conditions." Health officials are trying to
determine whether swine flu contributed to another recent death in
western Kentucky.
Still, Troutman reported no change in the severity or
transmissibility of the H1N1 virus.
"There's nothing to indicate that the disease is getting any
worse," he said.
Troutman said the swine flu has been no more serious than the
regular seasonal flu, and that in most cases people have recovered
from H1N1 without medical treatment.
Kentucky's public health commissioner, Dr. William Hacker, said
the flu outbreak is widespread in Kentucky, and called it "a
tragedy when we lose a Kentuckian to any illness."
Hacker told reporters Thursday that the swine flu symptoms are
similar to seasonal flu, and so far H1N1 appears no more severe.
But he cautioned that influenza has the potential to cause serious
illness.
Each year, about 500 Kentuckians die of seasonal flu, according
to state health officials.
Kentucky health officials requested swine flu vaccine on
Wednesday, the first day for orders, and expect initial shipments
of 24,300 nasal spray doses to arrive statewide next week.
The initial batch will go to county and district health
departments and be distributed to doctors and other health
providers. That first batch will be targeted for certain groups -
health care workers under age 50; people ages 49 or under who care
for or have close contact with children under 6 months old; and
young children and young adults, according to state epidemiologist
Dr. Kraig Humbaugh.
Larger shipments of vaccine are expected to arrive in steady
fashion for larger segments of the population, and officials said
swine flu shots should begin in coming weeks.
Troutman said lab studies so far have found no significant
change in the genetic makeup of the swine flu virus. That means the
vaccines should be highly effective, he said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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