Swine Flu Deaths in El Paso County

POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2009 - 11:16am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:24pm

EL PASO--- The swine flu may have claimed the lives of two El Pasoans; one, a pregnant woman.

While the two people died last week, we're told the positive results for the swine flu did not come until Thursday afternoon.

Now health leaders are trying to figure out if the virus was what actually killed them.

In a news conference late this afternoon, leaders told us both patients had underlying health problems.
The 24-year-old pregnant woman died last Sunday.
The 42-year-old man died the Tuesday before.

But we're told, they both arrived at local hospitals earlier, and their first flu screening results were negative.

"The first testing was negative, then they went down the whole differential diagnoses, and then they sent us the test so we can do some other tests... even though the initial testing was negative," said Health Authority leader Dr. Hector Ocaranza.

That initial test is the nasal swab you get if you have flu like symptoms.
We're told it's usually about 70 percent accurate.

It's important to say here that most cases of swine flu have been mild, similar to the normal flu that goes around every winter.

However, it has lasted beyond the normal flu season and doesn't look like it's going away.

"The information available to us from the CDC is that there will continue to be small outbreaks," said Dr. Luis Escobedo, leader of State Health Services. "It is likely (there will be) small-scale outbreaks throughout the country through the summer."

NewsChannel 9 also asked about the potential for more deaths in our county.
Doctors say, of the total 122 cases we've seen in El Paso County, only 17 people have been hospitalized.
Most of those patients have already recovered.

After the initial scare for schools and public gatherings, life is pretty much back to normal.
The deaths will not change that.

Health leaders are not making any special recommendations to close schools or restrict social events.

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