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Swine Flu: Illinois Confirms Second Death From H1N1

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CHICAGO (AP) -- A second Illinoisan died from complications of swine flu, state health officials said Wednesday, prompting renewed warnings that the virus still poses a danger.

Officials would say only that the latest victim was a female from northwest suburban Cook County who had other medical problems that might have made her illness more severe. They did not give her age, and said no other information would be released.

People close to the victim, including health care workers, have received medical attention, said Public Health Director Damon Arnold.

The state's first swine flu death was that of a 22-year-old Chicago man, who was hospitalized for about two weeks before he died Sunday, officials said. That person also had other health problems, officials said.

"We are saddened by the deaths but, as has been noted in Illinois and around the country, fatalities due to H1N1 continue to occur, especially when there are underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness," Arnold said in a statement.

The death reported Wednesday was the 15th in the U.S. and the 101st worldwide linked to the virus that has sickened more than 12,000 people. The deaths of two more New Yorkers were linked Tuesday to swine flu.

Officials closed schools after probable cases of the flu were first reported last month. They warned people not to shake hands and some Roman Catholic priests stopped distributing communion wine to avoid spreading the illness.

After the flu turned out to be milder than initially feared, health officials said many of those precautions were unnecessary.

But they said people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, lung disease and pregnancy should remain especially vigilant.

And everyone should continue to take steps to avoid getting the flu, including covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently and staying home when they're sick, officials said.

Illinois has had 975 confirmed cases. But many mild cases may not be diagnosed because doctors are advised to test only severely ill patients.

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On the Net:

Illinois Department of Public Health: http://www.idph.state.il.us/swine-flu/index.htm


-ASSOCIATED PRESS

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