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Snohomish County man dies of swine flu

SEATTLE — Washington state health officials say a man in his 30s is the first person in the state to die from what appears to be complications of swine flu.

The state Department of Health says in a news release that the Snohomish County man had underlying heart conditions and also viral pneumonia at the time of his death May 6, but that he also had swine flu and it is considered a factor in the death.

“This death is tragic. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this man’s passing,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “It’s a sobering reminder that influenza is serious, and can be fatal.”

The man was not further identified.

He reportedly began showing symptoms on April 30, and was treated with medications.

Health officials cautioned that the number of cases of swine flu in Washington are expected to continue rising for some time to come, and urged people to continue to practice preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing.

“We’re working with local and federal partners to track this outbreak,” said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, “and while most illnesses from this new flu strain have been fairly mild, we must remember that influenza claims about 36,000 lives every year nationwide. That’s why we urge people to take this outbreak, and the seasonal flu we see every year, very seriously.”

Health officials said earlier Saturday that an additional 18 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Washington, bringing the state’s total to 101.

The state Department of Health said Saturday that another 19 cases are considered probable for swine flu.

As of Saturday, 70 cases were confirmed in King County, which includes Seattle; 18 were confirmed in Snohomish County; five in Pierce County; two each in Spokane, Whatcom and Clark counties; and one each in Thurston and Skagit counties.

The probable cases include 10 in King County and nine in Snohomish County.

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