Saturday, August 8, 2009

H1N1 Kills Nurse

California recently reported an H1N1 death in a nurse. This is the first health care worker to die from the illness in the state.

She was coinfected with MRSA. MRSA is frequently associated with influenza deaths. We see this a lot in the pedaitric deaths. The patient is infected with influenza and then develops MRSA pneumonia. They go downhill scary fast, and those who succumb often die within a day.

While the MRSA infection was disturbing, so is the fact that this was a previously healthy woman. She was a triathlete.

There has been a lot of attention to underlying conditions and H1N1 deaths. In framing deaths in terms of underlying conditions, we reduce some of our own fears -- oh, well, that man had COPD, or that woman was pregnant, and I am neither of those, do I do not need to worry. It is a useful coping mechanism. But we need to be careful not to create a myth of H1N1, a myth that only those with underlying conditions are vulnerable, and then forget to protect ourselves.

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