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A middle-aged Plumas County man died Nov. 21 at a Reno hospital after being hospitalized with complications from the H1N1 2009 pandemic flu virus, Plumas County Public Health Officer Valeska Armisen, M.D. announced Nov. 23. The family identified the man as Dale Lancaster, 52, of Quincy is the first person in Plumas County to die from the pandemic H1N1 virus."We would like to convey our deepest sympathy to the family of this patient," Dr. Armisen said. “We know that H1N1 is present throughout our community, as it is throughout California and the nation. The vast majority of cases have mild or moderate illness, and the patients recover. Tragically, in this case, recovery did not occur." As of Nov. 14, there have been 318 California deaths from H1N1 flu, with more than 6,000 hospitalizations. To date in Plumas County, at least seven cases, with five hospitalizations, have been identified as probable or have been confirmed. Testing is limited to hospitalized cases or fatalities, so the vast majority of people with symptoms of H1N1 flu will not be tested.
"Unfortunately," said Dr. Armisen, "we anticipate that there will be more deaths throughout the United States and California before this outbreak ends. Plumas County is seeing a lot of flu activity for this time of the year, which is why everyone should continue taking steps to prevent spreading the flu."
Plumas County, like communities all over the nation, recently received a limited amount of H1N1 vaccine. Until this week, Plumas County Public Health Agency had been offering vaccine two days a week, on a walk-in basis, to certain groups of people at higher risk for H1N1 influenza illness and complications.
Now that private healthcare providers such as Plumas District Hospital, Eastern Plumas Health Care, Seneca District Hospital and the Greenville Rancheria have received H1N1 vaccine, public health will redirect public resources towards community based vaccination clinics. People who have a regular medical provider are encouraged to call their regular provider about vaccine availability.
The public health H1N1 vaccination focus will be on reaching community members who may have difficulty accessing H1N1 flu vaccine from private sources, such as people without health insurance or a regular medical provider. At the current rate of H1N1 vaccine production and distribution, public health anticipates vaccination clinics beginning in December at participating Plumas County licensed childcare providers and preschools, throughout January in K-12 schools, and community based clinics for healthy adults throughout February and March.
With vaccine availability delayed, Dr. Armisen stresses the importance of preventing the spread of flu by staying home when sick, washing hands often and covering coughs and sneezes. More importantly, people at high risk for complications from the flu should call their doctor as soon as they develop flu like symptoms. If antiviral medications are prescribed, they should be taken as directed. Anyone experiencing severe flu-like symptoms, trouble breathing or symptoms that improve but then worsen again should seek medical care.
For more information, visit the website at countyofplumas or flu.gov. Residents may also call the public health at 283-6330 or 800-801-6330 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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