5th flu-related death in Kent County

(file photo)
(file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A fifth person has died related to the flu in Kent County this winter season, according to the Kent County Health Department.

The latest victim is a man older than 50.

He was suffering from Influenza A (H1N1), the predominant flu strain people have been catching this season. The health department has no medical history on the man, so it is unclear if there were any known underlying medical conditions in this case, according to a news release.

“Health care providers report a leveling-off of cases of flu-like illness in recent weeks, but we still need to practice prevention,” said Adam London, administrative health officer for the Kent County Health Department.

“In some years, we see flu season peaks as late as March. If you are suffering from the symptoms, consider seeking help from a health care provider, and stay home until you recover.”

This is the 12th such death in West Michigan this year – three in Kalamazoo County, two in Ottawa County, and one in Van Buren County.

There have been more than 500 reported flu cases in Kent County this season, according to the health department.

Kent County had five known flu-related deaths in the 2009-2010 winter season, the initial year that the H1N1 strain was circulating. There were no deaths reported in Kent County in 2012-2013.

Flu viruses can spread when people cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has the flu virus on it, and then touching their mouth, eyes, or nose.

Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine this year is highly effective protection against the flu, including H1N1. It takes 10 to 14 days after receiving the vaccination for a person to develop immunity. People can become ill from exposure to contagious people during those 10 to 14 days before their immunity develops.

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Contact your local health department about flu shots:

Allegan County Health Department: 269.673.5411

Barry Eaton District Health Department:  517.543.2430

Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency:  517.279.5400

Berrien County Health Department: 269.927.5623

Calhoun County Health Department: 269.969.6370

Ionia County Health Department: 616.527.5241

Kalamazoo Health and Community Services: 269.373.5200

Kent County Health Department: 616.632.7200

Mecosta, Newaygo and Oceana County: (see website)

Montcalm County:  989.831.5237

Muskegon County Public Health: 231.724.6246

Ottawa County Department of Public Health: 616.846.8360

Van Buren and Cass County District Health Department:  269.445.5280

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