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Press Release

Contra Costa Confirms First Death with H1N1 Virus

June 4, 2009

A Central Contra Costa County elementary school-aged child has died with the H1N1 swine flu virus, Contra Costa Public Health Director Dr. Wendel Brunner confirmed today. The death occurred on May 29 and a state laboratory confirmed test results Wednesday afternoon. The child also had a secondary bacterial infection. The State Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are working to determine the exact role of H1N1 in this child's unfortunate death. This child is the first person in the county to die with H1N1 virus.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to this child's family," Dr. Brunner said. "While we have identified only 90 confirmed or probable cases through testing, we stopped testing most suspected cases several weeks ago, and we know there are at least several times that number of cases now in Contra Costa. We want to emphasize that there are hundreds of H1N1 cases in the county. The vast majority of these cases have mild or moderate illness, and the patients recover. Tragically, this child did not."

"We are doing everything possible to understand the cause of this child's death," said Dr. Brunner.

This is the seventh person under the age of 18 to die from a flu-related illness in California in 2009; the other six were associated with the regular seasonal flu virus.

All schools in Contra Costa remain open. Dr. Brunner explained, "The H1N1 virus is widespread in the county. Closing schools at this time would not be an effective strategy to prevent spread of the virus. Also, this child had been out of school for more than seven days, so there would be no purpose in closing that school now."

Public Health officials are working with schools to keep parents informed and to increase surveillance of absenteeism and illness. There have been three deaths with H1N1 infection in California and at least 20 deaths around the United States.

"Unfortunately," said Dr. Brunner, "we anticipate that there will be more deaths throughout the United States and California before this outbreak ends."

"Contra Costa is seeing a lot of flu activity for this time of the year, which is why everyone should continue taking steps to prevent catching the flu," Dr. Brunner said.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect against the novel H1N1 virus, sometimes known as swine flu, but Dr. Brunner said there are actions people can take to help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Dispose of the tissue after each use.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, even after washing your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

People experiencing flu-like symptoms should call their health care provider if they have a fever of over 100 degrees. Those who are ill with flu-like symptoms, but do not have a healthcare provider, should call the County's Advice Nurse Line at 1-877-661-6230. If you have severe symptoms or trouble breathing, go to an Emergency Room. For more information about the H1N1 virus in Contra Costa, visit A video podcast will also be available later this afternoon.

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Press Contact
  • Vicky Balladares
  • 925-313-6817
  • Dr. Wendel Brunner
  • 925-313-6712