Local woman dies from H1N1 flu…”We don’t know why she died,”

Monday, January 13, 2014
By Paul Martin

Sunday, January 12,2014

A 31-year-old Athens County woman who died last week, apparently from H1N1 influenza, had gotten a flu shot, according to the commissioner of the Athens City-County Health Dept.

“We don’t know why she died,” said Dr. James Gaskell Friday. “So far there are no answers, and that’s often the case… It’s absolutely tragic that this young woman died. I’m at a loss to explain it.”

Gaskell said the woman came to O’Bleness Memorial Hospital after having been sick for four to five days. She was transferred from there to Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, and then to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, where she died Jan. 7.

Gaskell said the flu vaccine currently available is considered by experts to provide good protection against the strain of flu now going around in the United States.

“The vaccine is a good vaccine for what’s circulating in our state,” he said, adding that getting the flu shot prevents a person from getting the disease about 85 percent of the time, and typically reduces its severity in those who do contract it.

The current strain of flu, according to Gaskell, is a subtype A of the H1N1 flu variety. “This was the organism that caused the pandemic a couple years ago,” he noted. “It seems to be the predominant organism in the country right now.”

Of tests run by the Centers for Disease Control this season, he said, 26 percent of people tested positive for flu; of that number, 97 percent were type A; and of that number, 55 percent were H1N1.

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