El Paso, TX (KDBC) — El Paso's Department of Public Health confirmed the first flu-related death in El Paso this season on Wednesday morning. The victim, a middle-aged man, did not have any known underlying medical conditions associated with his death, according to the EP Health Department.
Laboratory results show that the man contracted a strain of H1N1. The news of the man's death comes as flu rates throughout the country begin to spike through the first week of January.
“We know that the H1N1 virus is present in our community, and as we saw back in 2009, we also know that it can be deadly,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. “We also know that the flu vaccine can be an effective part of a community’s regimen when it comes to reducing the amount of people that are infected,” he said. If you get the flu vaccine, you are 60% less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider.
The Department of Health is encouraging all El Pasoans to get the flu vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. Getting vaccinated offers other substantial benefits including reducing illness, antibiotic use, lost time from work, hospitalizations, and deaths.
At least two factors play a role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness:
- Characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as age & health)
- Similarity or "match" between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community.
El Paso Department of Health says that the vaccine that is being provided this year provides protection from the deadly H1N1 strain of the virus that claimed the El Paso victim's life.
Department officials are asking residents to practice the "4C's," simple recommendations that have proved to be effective in preventing the spread of the flu virus.
CLEAN - Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 30
seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol -
based hand cleaner.
COVER - Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Don’t have a tissue? The crook of
your elbow will do.
CONTAIN - Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If
you do get sick, stay home until you’re well again, so you don’t
CALL - Call or see your doctor if you or your child has a fever of
greater than 100 degrees.
The EP Department of Health's Immunization program is also offering flu vaccines to children ages 6 months to 18-years-old who do now have health insurance and who meet eligibility requirements. The cost is $10.00. The Department stocks only a limited amount of adult vaccines and the cost is $25.00-$35.00. Clients are urged to contact the clinic of their choice to verify availability of both the children's and adult vaccines prior to their visit. Residents may also consult with their primary physician or a local retail outlet of their choice in order to obtain the adult vaccine.
For more information on preventing the flu, visit: www.EPHealth.com  and click on the flu prevention page.