RIPLEY – A Tippah County woman has become the fifth Mississippian to die as a result of the swine flu, the state Department of Health said Wednesday.
Tippah County Coroner David Hubbard confirmed that the death of a 52-year-old woman was under investigation for flu-related causes.
Officials were still gathering the woman’s medical history, but it appears she may have had some underlying health conditions that put her at greater risk for flu complications, Hubbard said.
It was the second flu death confirmed by state health officials this week. On Tuesday, the state health department confirmed swine flu in the death of a Hinds County resident.
In all, 632 cases of the flu have been confirmed in 77 of the state’s 82 counties by the state health laboratory. The health department count doesn’t cover all flu cases, but shows the geographic spread of the disease.
In the past 2 1/2 weeks, the state has confirmed more than 200 additional cases of the novel H1N1 flu, along with a handful of seasonal flu cases.
“We’re seeing this become much more widespread,” said Liz Sharlot, state health department director of communication. “Schools are back in session. More people are in close quarters. More people are becoming sick.”
The health department is encouraging Mississippians to wash hands frequently, practice good cough etiquette and stay home if they are sick with flu symptoms like fever, aches, chills, fatigue and cough.
Shots are coming
Seasonal flu vaccine should be available without restrictions in early October, said Liz Sharlot, director of communication for the Mississippi Department of Health.
Swine flu vaccine is anticipated in mid-October, and health officials will focus first on getting the vaccine out to priority groups identified by the Centers for Disease Control:
• Children and young adults through age 24.
• People caring for infants under 6 months.
• Pregnant women.
• Health care workers.
• People aged 25-64 with health conditions that put them at high risk of flu complications.
For more information, visit www.healthyms.com or call (877) 222-9358.
Michaela GibsonMorris/NEMS Daily Journal