Man's death in SLO County related to H1N1 virus

An elderly San Luis Obispo County man is the second local person to die from complications related to the H1N1 flu, public health officials reported Tuesday.

The man died last week after being hospitalized with the virus several weeks ago. Public Health Agency officials said the man had underlying health conditions that put him at higher risk for severe illness once he contracted the virus. Those conditions were not identified.

The man’s age and hometown also were not identified by county public health; the agency’s director, Dr. Penny Borenstein, considers such information to be personal and not something to be disclosed.

To date, 39 people have been hospitalized in the county for symptoms of H1N1, said Michelle Shoresman, spokeswoman for the local health agency. Statewide, she said 8,000 people have been admitted to hospitals for treatment of the virus, which was initially called swine flu when the pandemic began.

The first death related to H1N1 in San Luis Obispo County came in July, when a middle-aged North County man died after contracting the illness.

He too had underlying health concerns that made him more susceptible to becoming severely ill from H1N1.

The identity of the North County man was not disclosed at the time of his passing, and county officials did not explain his health conditions, saying only that he was very ill.

While the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that H1N1 flu activity is on the decrease, Borenstein said that it is the predominant virus in circulation in California right now, and that the Central Coast’s flu season typically runs from late December through February.

New supplies of the vaccine for the H1N1 flu have become available, and county public health is scheduling vaccination clinics next month at its sites in Grover Beach, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.

The vaccinations will be available to anyone on Jan. 12 and 13, from 2 to 7 p.m., at the health department offices in those cities. No appointment will be needed, and the shots are free.