Latest H1N1 update includes death of Chaves County teenager

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By The Staff

A Chaves County teenager with an undisclosed underlying health condition died Saturday from complications caused by the H1N1 influenza.

The death of the 15-year-old girl brings the statewide number of swine flu-related deaths to 13 this year, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

Six victims out of the 13 had some type of chronic health condition that put them at a higher risk for developing serious complications from the H1N1.

Each week the NMDOH analyzes information about influenza disease activity in New Mexico and publishes findings of key flu indicators.

The DOH is tracking hospitalizations and deaths to determine if there is a change in the severity of the disease.

The department is not seeing any other types of influenza in New Mexico at this time, therefore all positive flu tests are presumed to be novel H1N1 influenza.

The definition of an influenza-related hospitalization was broadened this week to include any hospitalization with any lab test positive for influenza, which accounts for the increase in hospitalizations from 140 to 221.

The severity of illness due to novel H1N1 influenza, which has been mostly mild, has not changed nationally or in New Mexico from the spring.

As of Oct. 14, Los Alamos County has ordered 380 doses of novel H1N1 vaccine. Santa Fe County has ordered 2,765, Bernalillo County 15,680 and Rio Arriba County 885 doses, according to the NMDOH.

The cumulative laboratory-confirmed deaths by H1N1 influenza by county this year, according to the NMDOH:

  • Los Alamos – one;
  • Bernalillo – two;
  • Chaves – two;
  • Lea – one;
  • McKinley – one;
  • Roosevelt – one;
  • San Juan – one;
  • Sandoval – one;
  • Sierra – one; and
  • unknown – one.

The Department also 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 increased to approximately 16 percent this week, up from approximately 10 percent last week. The percentage of visits to healthcare providers is drastically higher than would be expected for this time of year.

During the peak of last year’s flu season in March of 2009, some 3 percent of all visits to providers were due to influenza-like illness.