Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pflugerville man is county's first to die of swine flu

Pflugerville man is county's first to die of swine flu

By Mary Ann Roser

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A 49-year-old man from Pflugerville is the first person in Travis County to die of swine flu and the 14th known death in Texas, health authorities said Monday.

Ron Stowe, a father of four who would have celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary this summer, died Saturday at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, his wife, Lauren Stowe, said. He had been airlifted from Scott & White University Medical Campus in Round Rock on June 13, two days after his diagnosis, she said.

Stowe, 44, did not know how her husband became infected and said he had no underlying health conditions. "He was in perfect health," she said. No one else in the family is ill, she added.

Stowe said her husband was a sales and service manager for Wells Fargo financial company, "put family first" and was strong in his faith.

"I am in shock," she said through her tears. "He was the glue of our family."

Their children are Ali, 20, Aaron, 16, Victoria, 15, and Nathan, 11.

The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department reported the death Monday afternoon and is investigating. It does not provide patients' names or other identifying information.

Dr. Philip Huang, medical director for the health department, said in a written statement that "given the fact that several deaths in Texas and hundreds globally have occurred due to this illness — this is not an unexpected event. We continue to coordinate with local, state and national partners to monitor the spread of this illness."

As of Wednesday, Travis County had 127 confirmed and six probable cases of swine flu, or H1N1, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which updates the count weekly. The Austin/Travis County health department's combined figure was 114. Local health department spokeswoman Carole Barasch said the state data may include some noncounty residents.

In Texas, the state health department has reported 2,982 confirmed and probable cases of swine flu in 95 counties. Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that there were 27,717 confirmed and probable cases and 127 deaths.

However, those are "really just the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Anne Schuchat, a leading CDC expert, said last week. The CDC thinks more than 1 million Americans are infected with the H1N1 virus, she said. Most are younger than 25, she said.

The median age of hospitalized patients is 19, while the median age for people who have died from swine flu is 37 — "still quite young for anyone to be dying of an infectious disease," Schuchat told reporters last week.

To prevent the illness, health officials advise frequent hand washing, staying home when ill and covering coughs and sneezes.

maroser@statesman.com; 445-3619

Pickdog comment: I think we are going to see a nasty bout of Mexican flu this fall. Time to make sure you have all the things you need to bug in for a few weeks at the least.

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