The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) announced May 19 that Missouri has had its first death due to complications from a severe case of swine flu.
"The man (from St. Louis County), age 44, is the first Missouri resident and the eighth person in the United States to die after becoming ill with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, commonly known as the swine flu. An autopsy has been scheduled to determine a definitive cause of death," according to MDHSS.
Nationwide, about 5,000 people have come down with the strain of H1N1 virus. There have been 20 confirmed cases of swine flu in Missouri.
According to MDHSS, the man went to Mexico last month and returned April 27. About a week later, he fell ill. May 9, he went to an urgent treatment center and was admitted to a hospital on the same day.
"The H1N1 virus has been more virulent in Mexico than in the United States. The World Health Organization reports that Mexico has attributed at least 72 deaths to the new flu virus," according to MDHSS.
Those who had been in contact with the man, including medical personnel who treated him, were given anti-viral medications. According to health officials, anti-viral medications are most effective when taken 48 hours after the patient becomes sick.
Health officials have advised that school authorities not close schools because of a few probable or confirmed cases of swine flu unless a large percentage of the school's population has become sick.
MDHSS and the St. Louis County Health Department are continuing to investigate the man's death to see if there were any underlying causes besides swine flu.
"Our deepest condolences go out to this man's family and his friends," Margaret Donnelly, director of MDHSS. "We are working hard to determine why this case of flu became so much more severe than other cases in Missouri."