Health Advisory

2010-2011 Influenza Season Update
Viral Respiratory Illness-related Death Reporting

To: Vermont Health Care Providers
From: Steve Shapiro, MD, Chief Medical Examiner
Date: Dec. 20, 2010

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To monitor deaths associated with seasonal flu-like syndromes, the Vermont Department of Health suggests the following procedures for physicians faced with viral upper respiratory illness-associated fatalities.

Death Certification – Deaths believed to be related to, or precipitated by, a suspected viral respiratory infection should be certified as such, and designated as confirmed by laboratory or suspected by clinical history and/or circumstances.

Examples:
1. Patient with a chronic underlying condition (such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, emphysema, cancer, etc.) who may be more susceptible to dying as a result of being infected with upper respiratory illness, presents with an upper respiratory viral-like illness and has no laboratory confirmation of viral infection, and subsequently dies.

Cause of death: Upper respiratory illness of probable viral etiology
Contributory causes of death: (Part II on the death certificate) List all underlying diseases.

2. Patient with a chronic underlying condition (such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, emphysema, cancer, etc.) who may be more susceptible to dying as a result of being infected with an upper respiratory viral-like illness and does have laboratory confirmation of viral disease (e.g. influenza), and subsequently dies.

Cause of death: Upper respiratory illness of viral etiology (influenza confirmed)
Contributory causes of death: (Part II on the death certificate): List all underlying diseases.

3. Otherwise healthy person (young with no underlying conditions that may make them more susceptible to dying as a result of being infected with an upper respiratory viral-like illness) who presents with an upper respiratory viral-like illness and subsequently dies.

Report to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at 1-888-552-2952.

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