On October 23 the Kent County Health Department was informed a female in her 50s died from multiple underlying health conditions, including the H1N1 influenza. It is the first such death in the county. “We extend our deepest sympathies to this woman’s family and friends,” said Cathy Raevsky of the Health Department. “Flu activity has increased greatly in Michigan this week. While most cases of flu are mild, this is a reminder that flu can be a very serious illness and that people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for severe complications.” Persons with influenza do not need to see a doctor unless their symptoms are unusually severe or if they are at increased risk of severe illness due to an underlying health condition. Most people recover from H1N1 flu without medication just as they do from seasonal flu. However, each year in the United States, seasonal flu claims the lives of 36,000 people and hospitalizes another 200,000. This is why it is important to know when to seek medical attention or care. People are likely to experience complications of the flu and who should talk to a health care provider if they get flu symptoms include children younger than five, but especially younger than two; people 65 and older; pregnant women; people who have cancer, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders, or weakened immune systems. The number one way to avoid flu is to be vaccinated. At this time H1N1 vaccine is not widely available, but larger supplies are expected to be available in the coming weeks. Visit www.stickittotheflu.com or call the flu hotline at (616) 742-4FLU for updates.