Santa Cruz Co. reports first H1N1 death


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Santa Cruz health officials announced today that a middle-aged woman infected with the virus, commonly known as swine flu, died Tuesday at a local hospital. The county's health services agency is not releasing the woman's identity, but did release a statement saying she had "underlying health conditions which may have put her at risk for severe H1N1 illness."

The Monterey County Department of Health also announced today that a resident died last week while hospitalized for complications of H1N1 virus infection. Officials would not offer any more details, citing respect for the victim's family. However, the individual also had "serious underlying medical conditions" that increased the risk of severe infection, according to the statement health officials released today.

Widespread alarm over the H1N1 flu pandemic gripped the country in May, prompting school cancellations and daily tallies of confirmed cases. The World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic June 11.

While H1N1 no longer grabs headlines each day, Bay Area health officials are still monitoring cases, especially among residents made more susceptible by other medical conditions.

San Mateo County reported its first H1N1 death June 22, and Santa Clara County lost its first resident to the disease earlier this week. The California Department of Public Health has recorded 32 deaths in the state as of the weekly update released today.

Officials in both Monterey and Santa Cruz counties followed up their announcements with reminders that residents should wash hands frequently and cover coughs and sneezes with sleeves or elbows. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home from work or school for at least seven days.

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