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Second H1N1 Death Reported in Santa Barbara County

A 4-year-old boy who had underlying medical conditions died over the weekend

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on Tuesday reported that a 4-year-old boy who had underlying medical conditions died over the weekend, becoming the county’s second fatality from H1N1 flu.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this very difficult time,” interim department director Michele Mickiewicz said. “The loss of a child is a tremendous tragedy.”

Children younger than age 2 and children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy and diabetes are at increased risk of severe illness from the H1N1 flu or swine flu.

“The pattern of illness from H1N1 flu is very different from what we see with the seasonal flu. H1N1 flu is causing more serious illness in those under 40, while the seasonal flu is more likely to impact older people,” said Dr. Peter Hasler, a Santa Barbara County health officer. “We recommend contacting your doctor as soon as possible when a child under age 2, a pregnant woman or a person of any age with chronic lung, heart, neurological, immune or other disorders becomes ill with fever and cough.”

With an increase in the number of severe cases of H1N1 in the county, many residents are asking about the availability of H1N1 vaccine. Many health-care providers in Santa Barbara County have received very limited doses of the attenuated nasal-spray H1N1 vaccine. The vaccine is being delivered to healthy children ages 2 to 9.

The federal government expects there will be enough H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine for everyone who wants it. It will be shipped in batches over a period of many weeks. The initial shipments of vaccine are for groups of people who are at greatest risk of getting severely ill with H1N1 flu, including young children (6 months to 4 years), pregnant women and people ages 5 to 24 with chronic medical conditions. Health-care workers also will receive the vaccine early.

The flu is least likely to affects people older than age 64. As a result, that group will receive the vaccine a little later than other more vulnerable groups.

Click here or call 888.722.6358 for more information.

— Susan Klein-Rothschild is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

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