News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Death from H1N1 flu confirmed in Health District
First death related to H1N1 flu in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties

(November 20, 2009) Public health officials were informed late yesterday that an adult male from their four-county Health District died from complications of H1N1 (swine) flu. Following death from influenza, or any communicable disease, the Health Department follows a strict confidentiality policy to protect families' privacy; county of residence, age, etc., and are not released to the public.

"Sadly, we have learned a northwest Michigan resident has succumbed to illness associated with the flu. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and other loved ones," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

"While most cases of flu in Michigan and nationwide have been less severe, this news demonstrates how serious influenza can be," he said.

As of November 17, the last time statistics were updated, Michigan Department of Community Health reported 38 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza related deaths in the state, with victims ranging in age from 6 months to 73 years of age.

Those that are at the highest risk of suffering severe complications from flu are pregnant women, children less than two years old, and people with chronic health conditions. People who are at high risk of complications and get the flu should call their doctor and discuss the use of an antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu.

"We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness and death, especially in people with certain underlying health conditions," said Meyerson. "It's important to remind everyone how important it is to take simple precautions that can reduce your chances of getting and spreading the flu."

These steps include: H1N1 flu vaccination appointments are now available for free at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Mancelona, Charlevoix, and Gaylord. Call the Health Department at 800-432-4121 during regular business hours to schedule an appointment.

The Health Department is also currently investigating an unrelated death in the four-county service area which may have also been due to complications related to H1N1 flu.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about H1N1 flu vaccinations, call 800-432-4121 or visit