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First H1N1 death in Onondaga County

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: First H1N1 death in Onondaga County
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- In April, Onondaga County reported its first case of the H1N1 virus. On Wednesday, it reported its first fatality. Dr. Cynthia Morrow made the announcement at a news conference, but provided few details about the victim.

"This is an individual who did have underlying medical problems. An adult. I will not be releasing any further information about the individual to protect the individual's privacy and to respect the wishes of the family," said Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow.

Governor David Paterson released a statement about the victim as well, saying, "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my sincere condolences and prayers to his family and friends during their time of grief."

Ten new cases were confirmed in the county this week, which brings the total number of H1N1 cases to 42. Along with those 42 cases, the county now has their first fatality.

"Once it's in a community, it's in a community and unless people are very aggressive about taking those precautions and staying home, there will be transmission," said Morrow.

Despite the death, the county health department is still treating H1N1 the same as the seasonal flu. Dr. Morrow says the flu virus kills about 36,000 people every year and that the ages of those who have been infected with H1N1 range in age from less than one to 55-years-old.

"Nothing has changed in terms of our message to the public and that is please, if you're sick, stay at home. We want to minimize the transmission of this virus," said Morrow.

The health department continues to remind the public to take precautionary measures, such as washing your hands often with soap and water and avoiding people who are ill.

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