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First H1N1 death reported in Barry County

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Barry County Health Department satellite office in Monett.

A 7-year-old girl has died from complications of the flu, becoming the flu-related death reported in Barry County.

Barry County Health Department Administrator Kathleen King reported the death of the young girl this morning.

"Although most of the cases of influenza in the United States have been mild, we are saddened to report that in this case the virus did cause a death for this child," said King. "Losing any member of our community is tragic, but the death of a child is especially heart wrenching. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very difficult time."

The 7-year-old girl who resided in Barry County became ill with flu-like symptoms on Oct. 28. She then developed complications and was treated at a Springfield hospital. Unable to overcome the complications, the girl died on Nov. 10.

According to King, the girl had severe medical problems before contracting the flu. Tests were conducted at the Springfield hospital and came back positive for influenza A.

"I can't confirm it was H1N1 but it was positive for influenza A," said King. "The reports we received didn't indicate any further testing would be done."

Children and young adults age 5 to 24 have been the age group most impacted by the flu this fall.

"The best way to protect these young people and other members of our community against flu viruses is with vaccinations," said King.

The Barry County Health Department began administering seasonal flu vaccinations in early September and began giving H1N1 vaccinations to priority groups on Oct. 8.

"The (H1N1) vaccine has been delivered in small amounts each week," said King.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recommended that the H1N1 vaccine be made available first to those who have been most affected by the new virus.

The first priority group for the H1N1 vaccine include: children age 6 months to young adults up to 18; pregnant women; healthcare providers; first responders; and caregivers of infants 6 months and younger.

"Until we can get enough vaccine to provide it to everyone, we encourage residents to practice proven disease prevention methods like good handwashing, not touching your face and keeping a distance of at least six feet from someone who is sick," added King. "It is also important that people who are sick stay home to avoid spreading a virus to others."

More information on H1N1 and the seasonal flu can be found at the website www.fightthefluMO.com.

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