H1N1 virus claims life of healthy Los Alamos woman

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By Carol A. Clark

The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed the Los Alamos woman who died Sunday from the H1N1 virus had no pre-existing health problems.

Aracely Marquez Marquez, 21, was an employee of Smith’s Food and Drug Centers at 535 Central Ave. She most recently worked in the Deli department.

“Aracely was a wonderful person to work with. She came to work with a smile and pleased all the customers and employees everyday,” said Smith’s Human Resource Manager Debbie Brown-Bell. “She was a great asset to the company and to our Smith’s. We are all very sad for the loss and for her family. Aracely will be greatly missed.”

Marquez is the fourth woman to die from the virus in New Mexico this year and the only victim without existing health issues prior to contracting H1N1, according to DOH spokesman Chris Minnick.

“A 45-year-old woman from Sierra County who died from H1N1 had end-stage liver disease, a 52-year-old woman from Bernalillo County had chronic pulmonary disease and a 48-year-old woman from McKinley County had Asthma and diabetes,” Minnick said during an interview this morning. “The Los Alamos woman is the only person without an underlying health issue. We still consider the disease to be mild and will continue to monitor H1N1 hospitalizations and deaths to determine if the virus sees an increase in intensity. Our advice is still the same regarding frequent hand washing, covering the mouth when coughing and so forth.”

The New Mexico Department of Health  is preparing to respond to the influenza in the following ways:

• The Department of Health is working with providers throughout the state including hospitals, clinics, private providers and pharmacists, to provide vaccinations to protect people against the new strain of influenza (H1N1) and seasonal influenza. It is important to get protected against both strains of influenza.

• The Department is planning clinics statewide and will announce the dates, times and locations of clinics when they are scheduled.

• The Department of Health is planning for storage and distribution of antivirals, establishing an inventory of personal protective equipment, training hospitals on medical surge, and developing educational materials to explain what specialized populations can do to prevent and respond to flu cases.

• The Department is tracking hospitalized H1N1 cases and monitoring for a change in disease severity.

• The Department is recruiting health care professionals to help with vaccination clinics and potentially respond to an emergency.

To volunteer, access www.nmserves.org.

The 2009-10 flu season officially begins Oct. 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

CDC Synopsis:

During week 35 (Aug. 30-Sept. 5) influenza activity increased in the U.S.

• During week 35:

• 1,085 (20.5%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.

 • 97 percent of all subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.

• The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the epidemic threshold.

• One influenza-associated pediatric death was reported and was associated with a 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.

• The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was above the national baseline. Regions 2, 4, 6, and 9 reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels.

• Eleven states and Guam reported geographically widespread influenza activity, 13 states and Puerto Rico reported regional influenza activity, 10 states and the District of Columbia reported local influenza activity, 14 states reported sporadic influenza activity, two states reported no influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.

Contact Carol A. Clark lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.