Second county patient dies of flu

A 44-year-old Bothell man has died from the flu, the county’s second death from influenza this season.

The man, who had an undisclosed underlying health condition, died Jan. 20 from H1N1, according to Suzanne Pate, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District.

The type of flu that killed the man, also known as swine flu, caused an epidemic in 2009. That strain is included in this year’s flu vaccine to help protect people from the virus.

The Bothell’s man death comes as the number of flu cases continues to grow. Sixty-five people have been hospitalized in Snohomish County from the flu, and two schools have reported student absenteeism rates of greater than 10 percent, Pate said.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett is treating three people in its intensive care unit for flu symptoms, said Cheri Russum, hospital spokeswoman.

So far this month, 25 people have been treated at the hospital for flu-related symptoms.

The county’s first flu death was a Bothell woman in her 30s, who died earlier this month.

Statewide, there have been 37 laboratory-confirmed deaths from flu.

This includes two deaths in Island County and eight in King County.

For comparison, 54 people in Washington died during the 2012-13 flu season, according to state Department of Health officials.

The number of flu cases seems to have peaked about two weeks ago, but there are still a lot of people with the flu, said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, who tracks influenza issues at The Everett Clinic.

“This has been a really, really severe year as far as the number of patients who are ill beyond the norm for influenza,” he said.

Some patients are getting secondary infections, such as pneumonia.

Tu said he and other local physicians think that the flu season will continue for another three to four weeks before the number of new cases slows to a trickle.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com

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