For the first time in more than three months, an H1N1 flu-related death has been recorded in the Bradenton-Sarasota area.
The most recent death, that of a 67-year-old male, was reported Friday in Sarasota County.
Although most of the others who died from the disease were younger, they all had underlying medical conditions that contributed to their deaths.
To date, six H1N1 flu deaths have been confirmed in Sarasota County, and three in Manatee.
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The Sarasota County Health Department reported Friday it received laboratory confirmation of the latest H1N1 death in the county since the pandemic began.
“Although flu activity in Sarasota County is less than expected for this time of year, H1N1 influenza is still present in our community,” said Dr. William Heymann, medical executive director for the Sarasota County Health Department, in a press release.
“It can be a serious and even fatal disease especially in young children, pregnant women and among those living with chronic health conditions. We extend our condolences to the family who suffered this loss,” Heymann said.
John C. Burns, public information officer for the Manatee County Health Department, said there was no H1N1 activity in Manatee for the week ending March 20. No new cases have been reported, he said.
“We have been most fortunate. We feel bad about each and every one of the deaths, but the disease burden is low now,” Burns said.
The three deaths in Manatee County include a 37-year-old woman in October and a 27-year-old woman in September.
A third death, of an 83-year-old woman who passed away in Pinellas County on Sept. 7, was reclassified as a Manatee death by the state Feb. 5.
The woman had apparently contracted the disease in Manatee and was moved by a family member to Pinellas.
The H1N1 vaccine is now widely available, but demand has dropped off. H1N1 immunizations were transferred to routine clinic operations a few weeks ago, Burns said.
To date, the Manatee County Health Department has given in excess of 19,000 H1N1 vaccinations, but that is not the total number of doses given in the community. Other outlets also provided swine flu vaccinations, including drug stores, doctor’s offices and others.
“The disease is still out there and can still be serious,” Burns said.
H1N1 vaccine is available at the Manatee County Health Department, 410 Sixth Ave. E., Bradenton, five days a week.
For more information about the vaccine, call 748-0747, ext 1269.