For Immediate Release
September 9, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

KDHE announces second death of Kansan infected with the
2009 H1N1 influenza A virus

The second death in Kansas of a person infected with the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus has been confirmed by state and local public health officials.

The death occurred in a six-year old child from southeast Kansas.  The cause of death was determined to be the H1N1 virus.  The illness was confirmed as H1N1 flu at the state public health laboratory on August 25, and the child’s death was reported to KDHE on September 3. 

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas State Health Officer, expressed sympathy and offered his deepest condolences to the child’s family.

“We know that this virus infects children at a higher rate than adults and today’s sad news makes that point painfully clear,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said.  “While the majority of people experience mild illness, this child’s tragic death reminds all of us the importance of working towards preventing further spread and receiving the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.”

The pandemic H1N1 virus, which is thought to have infected more than 1 million Americans, has been confirmed in 53 counties in Kansas.  Visits to healthcare providers and emergency departments for influenza, which are tracked by KDHE, have been increasing in certain regions of the state over the past few weeks and are higher nationally than what is typically seen at this time of year.  In most of the state’s cases, where confirmatory testing was done, flu symptoms have been relatively mild. However, hospitalization rates for H1N1 influenza have been similar to seasonal influenza, and are also higher nationally than what is typically seen at this time of year.

The symptoms of infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever greater than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.

KDHE is no longer accepting specimens from everyone who sees a doctor with symptoms.  In non-hospitalized cases, confirmatory testing does not affect treatment and advice given to patients by health care providers.  People who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids so that they can recover without spreading the virus to others.

Individuals who experience severe illness or who are at high risk of complications from H1N1 influenza infection, including children less than 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and persons with chronic medical conditions (including asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), should contact their health care provider, who will determine whether testing or treatment is needed.

There is no vaccine available yet to protect against the pandemic H1N1 virus, but there are treatments that can shorten the course of illness in severe cases, once the infection is diagnosed. As with any influenza virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce spread:

KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus.  The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317.  Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions.

Kansans with questions about the virus can email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov.  Information is also available from KDHE at www.kdheks.gov.