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Posted on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 2:40 p.m.

Health department confirms first H1N1 death in Washtenaw County

By Tina Reed

The first death of a Washtenaw County resident with the H1N1 or swine flu virus was confirmed by county health officials Thursday afternoon.

Despite the news, local officials say there seems to have been a slight drop in flu activity in recent weeks.

Officials would not release any further information, other than to say the person was an adult and did not have any significant underlying medical conditions. In a release, the county said the death occurred earlier this week.

Information is not being released out of respect for the individual's family, said public health spokeswoman Susan Cerniglia.

Illness rates and hospitalizations have remained higher than typical in Washtenaw County, officials said in a release. About 45 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 flu virus and 12 hospitalizations occurred in Washtenaw County hospitals the week ending Nov. 14. There were about 45 school-aged children per every 1,000 kids out with respiratory illnesses in the week ending Nov. 14.

That is a drop from levels seen earlier this season.

During one week at the end of October, there were close to 90 confirmed cases of the flu and about 70 school-aged children per every 1,000 kids out with respiratory illnesses.

Flu Curve.png

A look at Washtenaw County lab confirmed flu cases and respiratory illness rates in the schools through Nov. 14. (See full-size image [PNG].) Source: Washtenaw County public health department

Both the University of Michigan hospital and St. Joseph Mercy hospital in Ann Arbor said they've seen recent drops in their inpatient volumes as well as emergency room visits from peaks about two weeks ago.

But officials warn it's impossible to know when an infectious illness has truly peaked for the season.

Earlier this week, the Michigan Department of Community Health said there have been more than 40 confirmed deaths in the state since the outbreak began in April. There have been more than 1,350 hospitalizations with flu-like symptoms in the state since April.

The state said flu activity has largely remained similar to what has been experienced in other parts of the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates between April and mid-October, there have been an estimated 98,000 hospitalizations with about 3,900 deaths. In comparison, during the course of a typical flu season there are more than 200,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths.

The next H1N1 flu vaccine clinic is planned for Sunday, Nov. 22 at the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center, 799 N. Hewitt Road, in Ypsilanti.

Vaccine will be available to those who are:
• Pregnant.
• Caregivers of children younger than 6 months.
• Between the ages of 6 months and 24 years of age to get the vaccine.
• Adults between 25 years and 64 years of age with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of having complications from the flu were also eligible.
• Those health conditions include chronic lung disease, a weakened immune system, cancer, diabetes, kidney or liver disorders, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. 
• Healthcare workers who provide direct patient care.

The clinic will begin distributing wristbands starting at 9 a.m. and will begin distributing vaccine at 10 a.m.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.



Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 4:21 p.m.

mbill you may want to rethink your fate. Maybe you have been selected as one of the spared. This is an official released statement. I would be counting my lucky stars that you didnt get it!! Ciao In a normal round of flu, about 250,000 people worldwide succumb to garden variety flu, and this year, H1N1 or no H1N1, the numbers rolling in are consistent with past years. As of October 30, about 5,000 worldwide have died of the H1N1 strain of flu, including approximately 100 Canadians. Chances of dying of H1N1 are 250,000 to one. You are 20 times more likely to die in a car accident than you are of dying of H1N1.


Sat, Nov 21, 2009 : 11:12 a.m.

2 clinics, 6,000 vaccines given, county pop. 350,000. There was a year to prepare, what if this was 20x as fatal? I am in the risk group and haven't been able to get a vaccine. NO info on how much vaccine is available Sunday..Why is this information kept secret? I have to drive from the west (forgotten) side of the county to see if there out again?

Tina Reed

Sat, Nov 21, 2009 : 8:14 a.m.

julieswhimsies: It's not that you are not at increased risk, but there is a limited amount of the vaccine and there were other priority groups that health officials feared were at even higher risk that you are. For example, medical workers and pregnant women were among those first in line to get the vaccine. The vaccine clinic on Sunday at the EMU's Convocation Center is offering vaccine to more priority groups to include those aged 25 through 64 with underlying health conditions like diabetes. If you health care provider still isn't able to give you the vaccine, you might be able to get it at Sunday's clinic.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 11:12 p.m.

I am 58 years old with Diabetes, yet the nurse at my physician's says I am not at greater risk for H1N1, therefore, they will not be giving me the vaccine. Why?


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 7:46 p.m.

I didnt speculate either in my comment, I work with a family member of the 48yr old man who died

Chrysta Cherrie

Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 7:23 p.m.

Dan, a link to the full-size chart is now provided in the caption.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 4:34 p.m.

Interesting article about Autism and Amish:


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 4:09 p.m.

GoBlu, your link about the Amish and Autism points to an "article" where the author was severely criticized for not being objective. I'm not sure that proves your case. Also, the fact that it's the only article of its kind on all the anti-vax websites also speaks volumes. And I didn't say vaccinations weren't profitable. I said they aren't as big money makers as drugs which is accurate. Just because they turn a profit doesn't mean that everyone's up to nefarious deeds. You're going to have to show a bit research than links to anti-vax scare sites.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 1:10 p.m.

The chart in this article is too small to read, but there is no link to a bigger version?


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 12:35 p.m.

For the record their was no speculation on identity of the person who died in my comment, or what the person died from. I talked with family today and confirmed.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 11:24 a.m.

I have heard rumor's that a young lady from Pioneer high school has become parylized due to the H1N1 vaccination. I would really like to know if this is true. ANNARBOR.COM, any info on this.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 10:36 a.m.

First off, "Big Pharma" doesn't get rich off vaccines. These are no Viagra cash-cow. Secondly, some Amish people do vaccinate and some don't. There's no hard-and-fast rule there. Secondly, your "statistics" about the rate of autism and the Amish are also false. A quick google can show the facts there. Please take reasonable precautions and do your homework about vaccines and the illnesses they prevent. There's lots of real science out there. Trust what's verifiable.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 10:05 a.m.

The point is not WHO died, but more that I think its being underreported- yet speculation on an internet board will do not one bit of good. I also don't trust the info being given out to the media- but it's what's being given out. They can only report what is said- and speculation is just that. The families have no obligation to share- their grief is fresh and new and respecting this process is essential. H1N1 is serious if you are one of those that have it and your body can't fight it off. It's not all (my husband and son had it) bad, but for those that are hospitalized, it is serious. Those that are ending up on Ecmo are not fairing well at all.. We know some things- over weight people seem to fair more poorly, and it is affecting the younger population more then the older, which is a deviant from the normal seasonal flu. There is also a higher level of people seen that have no previous medical condition- which is concerning. Moral seems to be- be aware, take care and watch for signs that indicate problems- just as you'd do for the normal flu. But don't underestimate the possible consequences.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 10:02 a.m.

Obviously people are dying who are not in any 'priority' group. Since I am not in any priority group, what should one do to avoid death from H1N1? Lots has been written on trying to prevent or avoid getting the H1N1 flu, but little has been written about the causes of death and how to avoid dying. That's the information the Health Department should be distributing to those they won't give the vaccine to!

News Watcher

Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 9:48 a.m.

GoBlu, of course the Amish are going to have a far lower incidence of autism -- not because they don't vaccinate, but because they don't relentlessly pursue medical diagnoses until their kids are labeled with conditions such as ADHD and autism, like the rest of America does. Part of the Amish faith is to shun anything they consider worldly, and from what I've read about the Plain People, they don't see conditions like these as anything other than being a little different at the very least and a trial set by God at the worst. They don't take a kid and hire an "English" driver to take them to the nearest medical facility for confirmation that the child is autistic. They simply accept God's will and continue living their lives. If the rest of America did the same, there would be far fewer diagnoses of autism, ADHD, OCD, and most of the other psychological conditions that have come to the fore in the last 20 years.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 9:33 a.m.

My son got the swine flu in October and he has asthma so I was watching for the serious cough. He was midly sick and starting to feel better when he starting coughing alot. I took him in right away and he had already started wheezing and needed a steroid. Please do not panick but just monitor yourself or family very closoly for respitory problems and if you have questions or concerns go to the doctor or call.It is a very tricky virus where you do not neccesarily feel that ill but just watch your breathing and for return of fever. I hope this helps and you should be fine as lomg as you stay on top of it. cindy


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 9:14 a.m.

congratulations cindy and tina. you are both inspirations to the entire organization. what an informative piece. clearly we have nothing to worry about.

News Watcher

Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 9:11 a.m.

The media has created a panic about the swine flu, & there really is no point to the hysteria. As other posters have indicated, seasonal flu kills thousands yearly. Chicken pox even kills hundreds per year. My spouse and 12 year old son were two of the confirmed H1N1 cases in late Oct., and other than GI distress and a residual cough there was absolutely nothing even remotely alarming about their illness' symptoms. My other kids and I didn't get H1N1 either, despite being around the two sickies. H1N1 is just another bug.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 8:50 a.m.

Because they stopped testing for H1N1 months ago, how do they really know how many people have died from it? There is some slightly better flu coverage by I don't trust the official numbers and have not for quite some time. Dr. Niman's flutracker site is slightly better, though I think it's based on some official data.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 8 a.m.

The death did not seem to be from the "at risk" list. How is it that the government creates an "at risk" list, then people die outside of it. Seems like the government is not the correct person to ask health care information from. Of the deaths from swine flu, most were adults, not the children on the list. Maybe this government wants to kill off all the adults that do not want to follow it's agendna.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 7:44 a.m.

Go Blu, "Also, according to the latest CDC report, the swine flu, just like the average flu, kills people with underlying problems and those between 50-59." Seasonal flu tends to kill more elderly people. Yet the deaths in Michigan from H1N1 have been 2-72 years old. That's not the seasonal flu pattern. Also, in the article above, the man did not have underlying conditions, according to the report. Your comparison by numbers isn't really pertinent because the "flu season" as defined has barely begun...and runs through May. So we have NO idea how many deaths will occur from H1N1 yet. Your opinion about not taking the vaccine is just that...your opinion. However, people should use get medical advice from their physician. Even if people don't care about their own health, they should care about exposing others to a flu virus that kills.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 12:09 a.m.

I am sorry but I just read that obit and NO where does it say he died do to complications of the flu or what, for all we know he may have died do to a peanut reaction or a snake bite or on the table during routine surgery.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 11:20 p.m.

Why is it so important to know who it was and when? And why would you think there is something to hide? Is knowing going to make you safer? What comfort can you possibly get from know the details of this unfortunate death? It


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 7:45 p.m.

Actually, the obituarities record someone dying from complications of the flu on November 14th at the age of 37. He was from Ann Arbor. Very sad, so young. My heart goes out to his family.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 6:47 p.m.

Has anybody else read the Obituaries on this site today? This seems pretty easy to figure out, I think.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 6:06 p.m.

Sam, I agree. Why so secretive? I think health officials make people even more paranoid when they do not give good information after a death from an illness. Don't we all think: what are they hiding? They do not and should not give names...but the age of the person, whether they had been hospitalized long etc...just to give people a bit of comfort that they have some knowledge. A good example of my concern about the "garden of misinformation" from health officials: they say people over 64 yrs old can't get a vaccination because they aren't in a targeted group.... and yet the oldest person on Michigan to die of it is 72. Hey, excuse me but that's over 64. Sometimes I wonder if I can count on anything I read about the H1N1 flu.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 5:53 p.m.

Newspeople should really press for more information on this. Why, for example, would it be bad for us to know when this person passed away?