A Spokane man in his 50s has died of complications from H1N1 influenza, aka swine flu – the second such death in the county.
The contagious virus has hospitalized seven people in Spokane in the past month.
Nineteen cases have been confirmed in the county, although the actual number of people sickened with H1N1 is probably far higher, said Dr. Joel McCullough, Spokane County health officer. Most people with the flu do not seek medical attention and only those cases requiring hospitalization or similar care are tested and confirmed by the state health officials.
The H1N1 virus is suspected of sickening a growing number of students at Washington State University.
WSU Health and Wellness Services has seen dozens of students complaining of flu-like symptoms.
The numbers have been so great that the university has begun referring students to Pullman Regional Hospital.
“We have seen many people today for H1N1 – 95 percent, I’d say, are students,” hospital spokesman Josh Harman said Thursday.
The waiting lines in the emergency room grew so quickly that hospital staff asked many of the students without underlying health problems such as asthma “to simply go home to rest, get fluids and not spread the disease.”
Most people sick with H1N1 have a mild bout of illness that can be eased by taking an over-the-counter painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Doses of prescription flu medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza are being reserved to treat the most severe cases.
Health officials continue to stress hand-washing, the use of tissues when coughing or sneezing and staying home when sick to reduce the flu’s spread. While seasonal flu vaccines are available now, the vaccines for the H1N1 flu strain won’t be available until mid- to late October.