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Flu takes life of St. Joseph County man

COLDWATER (WTVB) - The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency office in Coldwater on Friday reported that a second death associated with this year’s flu has occurred in the tri-county area.

The victim was a St. Joseph County man over the age of 60 who tested positive for H1N1, the predominant influenza strain making the rounds this year. The man also suffered from several other chronic conditions, which may have complicated his recovery.

The first flu-associated death occurred in January at an out-of-state facility to an elderly woman who resided in Hillsdale County.Steve Todd, Health Officer for the Health Department said it’s not known if the woman had received a shot, but he added that they do know that immunization is the best defense against the flu. Some pharmacies are still providing flu shots.

Flu vaccine is also still available at the health department, where they are starting to see a decrease in the number of influenza and flu-like cases being reported by health care providers, schools and day cares. Todd cautions that influenza can still peak as late as March or April so they continue to encouraging people to make sure they are vaccinated.

Across the region, 12 other flu related deaths have been reported in West Michigan with Kent County hardest hit with five this season and 3 deaths in Kalamazoo County.