Vases wrapped with Xeroxed photographs of a muscled, smiling young man sat on the counter of Island Star convenience store in Edgartown yesterday, accepting contributions for the widow of Elton Barbosa, a 26-year-old Oak Bluffs resident who died on Friday of H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.

Mr. Barbosa had no known underlying health conditions, officials said. Most swine flu-related deaths have involved other health factors, such as an existing immune deficiency or other medical ailment.

His was the eleventh H1N1-related death in Massachusetts, the state Department of Public Health confirmed, and the first from Martha’s Vineyard.

Friends at the Brazilian store at the Triangle said that Mr. Barbosa had been sick for less than two weeks. He died in a hospital in Boston, according to a young woman at the store who did not wish to be named. The fever had only come upon Mr. Barbosa in the past week and a half, she said: “It all happened very quickly.”

Already some $200 had been pledged by customers who signed a list on the counter that said simply, in Portuguese, “Solidarity — Elton Barbosa.”

He is survived by a wife on the Island, according to the young woman. The rest of his family is in Brazil. No further details about funeral arrangements were known.

He is believed to have contracted the virus on the Island, said the young woman, who added that the community was mystified and saddened by the tragedy.

Department of Public Health commissioner John Auerbach said in a statement: “Every death from flu is tragic, but it is even more so when it involves a young person.

“This case is also a reminder of how serious influenza can be, and why we are focused so intently on preparations for the upcoming flu season,” he said, reiterating that anyone developing a fever with a cough, sore throat or runny nose should contact a doctor immediately. To stop the spread of flu, he reminded people to wash hands frequently with soap and warn water, cover any coughs and stay home if you are ill.

Public health officers on the Island, including Oak Bluffs health agent Shirley Fauteux, were instructed to say only that a Dukes County resident died of H1N1-related illness. They were not to discuss whether he died on the Island or any of the circumstances surrounding his illness.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s infection control nurse, Donna Enos, did not return a request for comment before press time last night.

Physicians no longer are required to test patients with flu symptoms for the H1N1 virus, so health officials have no data on how many non-fatal cases of the virus there have been on the Vineyard.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health said yesterday that the virus has hit young people particularly hard. The median age of those affected nationwide is 14 years old, she said, unlike seasonal flu, which tends to affect the elderly hardest.

Of those who have had H1N1 virus, only one per cent were aged 65 or older, she said.

The initial target population for the H1N1 vaccine would be people aged six months to 24 years old. The vaccine is expected to be available to consumers in Massachusetts by mid-October.

The swine flu vaccine comes in two doses, administered 28 days apart.

Island health officials are discussing offering the H1N1 vaccine at health clinics in schools as well as a community-wide vaccination day. School nurses and the superintendent of schools are aware that town health agents are contemplating school clinics.

Massachusetts officials do not yet know when the federal government will deliver the H1N1 vaccine, but they are expecting to have two million doses in October with almost the same number available in November, while demand lasts.

Seasonal flu vaccine also will be offered, and is expected to be available earlier than the H1N1 vaccine.

The state spokeswoman said the department is preparing for a severe H1N1 outbreak.

New emergency regulations approved last week by the Massachusetts Public Health Council require licensed health care facilities in Massachusetts to offer all employees of those facilities seasonal influenza vaccine, and H1N1 vaccine when it is available.

State officials also expanded the scope of those who will be permitted to administer the H1N1 vaccine, to include dentists, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians.

“H1N1 flu has caused of the first flu pandemic in 40 years, which means its geographic spread is now worldwide,” according to the state government’s H1N1 blog ( “While most people who became infected with H1N1 recovered after mild to moderate illness, the outlook for the fall and winter flu season is uncertain. Having different strains of the flu circulating at the same time c an increase the number people who get ill and seek care at health care facilities — and that can increase demands on our health care system as a whole.”

According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 477 people have died as a result of H1N1 influenza in the United States. By contrast, each year seasonal influenza causes an estimated 250,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths nationally, according to data on the state’s swine flu Web site,