Health Team

N.C. reports first swine flu death

Posted June 24, 2009

A Guilford County resident who died earlier this month in Greensboro is the state's first death linked to the H1N1 influenza virus, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.

State health director: 179 cases of 179 cases of swine flu State health director: 179 cases of swine flu

The adult patient, who died June 19 at Wesley Long Community Hospital, had an underlying medical condition. DHHS said lab tests following his death confirmed it was from the virus.

State health director Dr. Jeffrey Engel said Wednesday afternoon that 179 cases of the flu strain, also known as the swine flu, have been confirmed in 39 North Carolina, including Wake, Orange, Johnston, Harnett and Franklin.

Fifty-five cases have been confirmed since last Wednesday, including two at North Carolina State University involving students. Both are recovering and in self-isolation at home, according to a university news release.

Moses Cone Health System, meanwhile, said that the patient who died had a recent heart procedure at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, a part of the same health system where 33 infants in the neonatal intensive care unit were quarantined after a respiratory therapist might have exposed them to the virus.

The health system said Tuesday that four of the infants had been released from the hospital and that the others showed no symptoms of the flu.

Dr. Timothy Lane, an infectious disease specialist and the medical director of Moses Cone's Infection Prevention Service, said the two instances of possible swine flu are not related.

The Moses Cone Health System, like others in the state, is seeing high numbers of people with flu-like symptoms. The individual who died "did not have any contact with other patients or staff known to have the flu or flu symptoms,” Lane said.

In the U.S., the number of swine flu cases exceeds 21,000, and more than 80 people in the U.S. have died from the illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been more than 30,000 cases of H1N1 reported worldwide.

Influenza-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea or vomiting associated with this virus.

Like seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus can vary in severity from mild to severe. This strain of influenza appears to be similar to seasonal flu, which kills about 30,000 people every year in the United States, Engel said.

Unlike the seasonal flu, he said, he does not expect the virus to taper off during the warm weather.

"Normally, seasonal flu is gone by April, may trickle into May but to see what we're seeing this summer nationwide, again in summer camps and other settings, as well, is definitely unique."

A vaccine that the federal government will provide for free since the swine flu is a pandemic, is in development, but Engel said the best way to help protect others is to follow good prevention practices every day.

Ways to help prevent the transmission of the H1N1 virus include:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
  • Staying at home if you are sick.

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  • Orange RN Jun 25, 2009


    Estimates vary, but 30 - 40% of people who have diesd were previously healthy. According to the Texas woman's husband, her only risk factor was being pregnant.

    "Most cases of severe and fatal infections have been in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years.

    This pattern is significantly different from that seen during epidemics of seasonal influenza, when most deaths occur in frail elderly people.

    Many, though not all, severe cases have occurred in people with underlying chronic conditions. ...

    At the same time, it is important to note that around one third to half of the severe and fatal infections are occurring in previously healthy young and middle-aged people."
    Margaret Chan, Dir. WHO

    Read here:

  • preppykev2004 Jun 24, 2009

    dbcooper41...what happened was...the respiratory therapist treated a patient that had flu symptoms. it was determined later that day that he (patient) tested positive for the swine flu. by that point, the respiratory therapist had already treated other patients, including the babies. although she washed her hands and wore a mask....she was still in contact with the babies after being exposed by another patient. she did everything she could have to ensure the safety of the patients. none of the babies tested positive. how do you know who does or does not have the swine flu without a test. the only way to prevent the spread is to make all patients and all staff wear a mask. and good luck at getting that implemented.

  • 1Moms_View Jun 24, 2009

    djofraleigh is correct. Look for either a mutated or a form which resist vaccines even more by winter. This disease will be more deadly before it's finished.

  • 1Moms_View Jun 24, 2009

    So, now we have an infectious disease brought over the border, a state with severe budget cuts which threaten public education, care for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill, yet Perdue continues to see no problem with welcoming scores of illegals into our state. Wake up Perdue.

  • djofraleigh Jun 24, 2009

    This milder strain of the flu that the media rightly reports publicly, and some show concern, and others laugh at, and other put their head in the sand from, is a great 'practice run' for a worser one to come, and it will. We have failed in this one. Not IDing it sooner, letting Canada finally find it, not containing it, and not having a vaccine for it yet.

    Perhaps this flu which thrives out of season, will mutate come November, or maybe not. Either way, let us better prepare and call this a lesson learned.

    I heard of it on the 23rd of April. I was exposed on the 27th, unknowingly. It has spread the world around. It is not over. It is beyond us already. Are we going to be ready for the case that does kill the young & healthy? We were NOT this time.

  • dbcooper41 Jun 24, 2009

    true, i am not a doctor. but i have visited in an intensive care unit. it all sounds very strange to me that the babies were "exposed". and now a supposed death from the "swine flu".

  • coolwill43 Jun 24, 2009

    close the borders

  • preppykev2004 Jun 24, 2009 must have no medical or pathology training to make a comment like that. i work at this hospital and was exposed to the swine flu, although i did not get it. handwashing alone is not the only way to prevent getting this. it is airborne and even though a patient is wearing a mask, air still is able to get out. so if a health care employee is working on a patient with the swine flu, there is always the chance that they can contract it.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jun 24, 2009

    I believe I'm correct in this statement. Correct me if I'm not.

    But I believe that every US person, that has died from the "Swine Flu", had underlying circumstances that complicated the issue. The NC citizen that died had just had heart surgery. A young teacher in Texas, that died a month or so ago, had recently given birth and had complications.

  • time4real Jun 24, 2009

    still calling it "swine flu" wral? geeze...............