The San Bernardino County Department of Health today announced the county’s first death of an individual confirmed to be infected with the H1N1 virus, earlier referred to as the swine flu. The deceased was a middle-aged man with serious pre-existing medical conditions, including heart disease, pneumonia and obesity. Of the 114 confirmed cases of H1N1 within San Bernardino County, this is the first to result in death, and also the first death in California related to the virus. Says County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, “His death is a sad reminder of how significantly this flu can impact people who have chronic illnesses. Most cases have been mild, and we have seen fewer infections now since the virus spreads in a similar way to the seasonal flu.” As there is no vaccine to protect against H1N1, which combines swine, human and bird viruses, the following precautions are still recommended to guard against the spread of the virus: cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow; wash hands often with soap and water; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; avoid close contact with sick people and, also per the County, attendance at large gatherings; and practice good emergency preparedness by storing a two-week supply of food, water and medication. Those who are ill with flu-like symptoms, but do not yet have health care coverage, can contact the Family Health Center in San Bernardino at 422-8029.