First swine flu death reported in Levy County

The 13-year-old girl died last month. Details were not available.

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:42 p.m.

Levy County's first known swine flu-related death was reported earlier last month when a 13-year-old girl died.

In a news release about the teen's death, Levy County Health Department Administrator Barbara Locke said she could not release details about the case but said "pre-existing health conditions often play a role in how individuals react to the flu."

Residents who feel ill with flu-like symptoms are asked to stay home from work or school.

Signs of the flu include a fever over 100 degrees, coughing or sneezing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills and fatigue.

When someone who suspects he or she may have the flu decides to get medical attention, they are encouraged to call ahead to the office or clinic. In some instances, people suspected of having the flu are being isolated from other patients to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those most vulnerable to it.

Alachua County has recorded three deaths as a result of H1N1, or swine flu, infections - a 41-year-old woman, a 61-year-old man and an 82-year-old man - and all three victims have had underlying medical conditions, according to the county health department.

The woman was the most recent victim. Public health officials said she was treated at a local physician's office in late August and battled illness until her death in late September.

Paul Myers, assistant director of the Alachua County Health Department, told The Sun earlier this week that the cause of death is listed as swine flu if the patient tests positive, even in cases where other medical conditions are present.

"The way the state is reporting swine flu deaths is that it may not be the main cause of death," Myers said.

Myers and other health officials have said that 60 percent to 80 percent of people who are sick with influenza-like illnesses are testing positive for the flu. Of those, 99 percent are testing positive for swine flu, Myers said.

State and county health departments have established flu information hot lines. Throughout Florida, the toll-free number is 877-352-3581. In Alachua County, call 334-7981. Online information is available at

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