An 80-year-old from Sussex County had other medical conditions that made her case of H1N1 worse, eventually resulting in her death.
An 80-year-old woman from Sussex County is the second Delaware resident in the last week to die from H1N1. State health officials say the woman died in a Delaware hospital on Saturday. Last week, a 35-year-old Kent County woman died after being hospitalized with H1N1. Both women suffered underlying health problems that complicated their illness.
The general thinking among health experts is that H1N1 is much more of a threat to younger people than the elderly. Director of the Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay says 80% of Delaware’s H1N1 cases were in people younger than 30, while only 1% of H1N1 cases were in people over 65. “Scientists have been looking at this and are somewhat unclear at this given time as to exactly why it’s the case that people over 65 are not getting it. It does appear that there is some immunity to it, probably based on previous exposure.” Rattay says although it is rare, if someone over 65 does come down with H1N1, they are at a much higher risk of complications from the infection.
Age is a factor in making H1N1 symptoms worse, so are underlying health problems including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Health officials say H1N1 is generally just a mild infection for most healthy people.
Health officials are still trying to determine if the death of a 17 year old boy last week was related to swine flu. The New Castle County teen had multiple chronic medical conditions. The final results on the exact cause of death isn’t expected until next week.
Health officials are expected to update the number of Delaware cases and the availability of vaccine on Thursday. To find out more on where you can get vaccinated, click here.