Omaha officer dies of H1N1 - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Omaha officer dies of H1N1

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By: Brittany Paris

A warning from the Department of Health and Human Services, if you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, get it.

They say they dominant strain of flu this season is H1N1. It's already taken more than 200 lives nationally, 12 here in Nebraska.

On Wednesday, 43-year-old Greg Hamill became the latest victim of the virus. He was a 12-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department.

"When someone is there of you at all times and then they're gone, it's almost impossible to describe," Officer Craig Wylie, Omaha Police Department, said.

Wylie was partners with Hamill for two years.

"It's almost like dealing with the loss of a brother," Wylie said.

And while we can count on the flu coming around every year, health officials say this year, they're worried about who is getting sick.

You might remember the H1N1 pandemic from a few years ago.

"When it hit back in 2009, it affected younger people. That was a little bit unusual. Usually, we hear about influenza in older people," Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist, said.

Safranek says, in Nebraska, the average age of a person killed by H1N1 is 59, but that number is usually a lot higher.

"No one knows why it affects people more. One age group more than another," Safranek said.

He says the strain is just a bad one, not only killing younger people, but healthy people.

"We do, tragically, we see individuals affected by this who are otherwise healthy and have no underlying medical conditions," Safranek said.

And people who knew Hamill say he appeared to be in good health.

"You kind of expect, being on the job, that violent things can happen and we kind of prepare ourselves mentally for that. You don't prepare yourself mentally for illness," Wylie said.

Safranek says we're not out of the woods yet, there are still a few weeks left in flu season.

Again, he stresses if you haven't gotten your flu shot, get it because it does include the H1N1 virus.

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