Pennsylvania reports first flu death of the year

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed that a 45-year-old-man from Lehigh County has passed away as a result of the flu, which is the first flu-related death of the 2010-2011 flu season.

“This individual was confirmed to have 2009 H1N1, which we know is beginning to circulate,” Michael Huff, acting Pennsylvania secretary of health, said. “This year’s seasonal influenza vaccine provides protection against 2009 H1N1, as well as two other strains of flu, A/H3N2 and influenza B. These strains are very well matched with what is circulating in Pennsylvania.”

It is estimated that nationally 36,000 people a year die from flu-related complications and approximately 1,000 deaths occur every year in Pennsylvania. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends that all individuals six months of age and older receive the vaccination for the 2010-2011 flu season.

“There is plenty of vaccine available this year and vaccination is by far the most effective way to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians who will be sickened by the flu,” Huff said.

To prevent the spread of influenza and respiratory illnesses, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, keep your hands away from your face and do not touch your mouth, nose and eyes, and frequently clean commonly used surfaces.