ADVISORY: H1N1 severity has not changed nationally or in New Mexico

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By The Staff

The severity of illness due to H1N1 influenza has not changed nationally or in New Mexico from the spring, according to the New Mexico Department of Health, adding that the illness has been mostly mild in New Mexico.

The latest update from DOH is that a female infant from Roosevelt County and a 5-year-old female from Sandoval County have died as a result of H1N1 influenza. Neither child had a chronic medical condition.

Five other New Mexicans have died from H1N1 this year including a 21-year-old women from Los Alamos County without chronic medical conditions, a 45-year-old woman from Sierra County with end stage liver disease, a 52-year-old woman from Bernalillo County with chronic pulmonary disease, a 48-year-old woman from McKinley County with asthma and diabetes and a 58-year-old male from Bernalillo County with chronic conditions that put him at risk for serious complications from the flu.

DOH will not know about or report every flu case in the state because not all cases are reported to the Department, and often sick individuals do not go to their doctors or get tested for influenza.

The Department tracks influenza-like illness, which is defined as fever and either cough and/or sore throat, at 22 clinics throughout the state. Influenza-like illness is the best indicator of flu activity in the state.

Visits to healthcare providers for influenza-like illness are increasing in New Mexico and the United States, according to DOH. Approximately five percent of all visits to healthcare providers reported this week to DOH were due to influenza-like illness.

This is about a one percent rise from the previous week. This percentage is higher than expected for this time of year. During the peak of last year’s flu season in March of 2009, approximately three percent of all visits to providers were due to influenza-like illness.

There have been 85 hospitalizations related to H1N1 influenza. The hospitalizations by county are as follows:

Bernalillo County (11), Chaves County (3), Cibola County (3), Doña Ana County (7), Eddy County (5), Lea County (2), Lincoln County (2), Los Alamos County (1), McKinley County (12), Otero County (5), Rio Arriba County (3), Roosevelt County (2), San Juan County (5), Sandoval County (3), Santa Fe County (5), and Sierra County (4), Socorro County (1), Taos County (6), Valencia County (1) and four cases where residence has not yet been determined.

Vaccine Information

The New Mexico Department of Health has started to ship seasonal flu vaccine to public health offices and the department’s long-term care facilities across the state. The Department has also begun shipping children’s seasonal flu vaccine to private providers statewide. Manufacturers typically send flu vaccine in several shipments. The Department expects to receive and ship children’s vaccine throughout the fall and winter.

DOH and New Mexico Influenza Vaccine Consortium encourage people at higher risk of developing influenza complications to make an appointment with their healthcare provider to get their flu vaccine soon.

For statewide seasonal flu clinics, access