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Influenza A H1N1 : Malaysia Third Death

Malaysia has recorded the first influenza A (H1N1)-related death from a local transmission, signalling that the flu in the country is worsening.

The 42-year-old man, who died on Monday, is the third victim to have died from the flu.

The two earlier deaths were linked to imported cases of the H1N1. They were a 46-year-old Malaysian man, who had worked in Belgium and died last Sunday and a 30-year-old Islamic finance student from Indonesia who died on July 21.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Malaysian man was reported to have died from severe pneumonia with multi-organ failure at 4.40pm on Monday after being treated for 10 days in a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

He said the victim had received outpatient treatments from several private clinics and hospitals since July 6 before being referred and admitted to the private hospital on July 18.

“In the ward, he was diagnosed to be suffering from diabetes mellitus and chest x-ray showed that he was also suffering from pneumonia,” he told reporters at the operations room at the Health Ministry here Tuesday.

Liow said the victim was transferred to the intensive care unit after having breathing difficulties and requiring ventilator.

He said when his condition deteriorated, a throat swab was taken on July 22 and he was confirmed to be H1N1 positive the following day.

“The swab was taken very late on July 22. Despite being in hospital, these three victims all died. They couldn’t be saved. Now we’ve found out that the treatment came to them very late. I’m very concerned.”

He said he had directed all private clinics and hospitals to be vigilant and be on high alert as well as have anti-viral drug, Tamiflu to handle the H1N1 cases.

“Everyone must be responsible and on high alert. This is a pandemic season now. If you have flu and cough, take it seriously,” he said, adding that the rate of death risk for those infected with H1N1 was 0.4% to 0.5%

He advised the public to wear mask, take care of their personal hygiene and try to practice social distancing if they were having sore throat and cough.

He said those with flu-like symptoms must go to the hospital and if confirmed to have with H1N1, they should take Tamiflu.

Asked whether local users had suffered reactions after taking Tamiflu as shown by some foreign users,

Liow said :”No. Not in Malaysia. At the early stage, the Health director-general had warned the public not to simply take Tamiflu. Take it when you have the symptoms.”

Liow also had directed the National Pandemic Preparedness Plan technical committee to address all issues, including late treatment and convey the message to the private clinics and hospitals.

He also disclosed that as at July 28, there were 95 new local H1N1 cases involving Malaysians with one death.

Of the total, 68 cases were from 19 new clusters while 22 cases were from the existing 11 clusters and five others were sporadic or isolated cases.

Up till July 28, total reported cases stood at 1,219, with three deaths reported.

Of the total, 53% or 645 are local infections while 47% or 574 are imported cases.

“Local transmission cases have exceeded imported cases. Our local infections is spreading so fast throughout the country with 19 new clusters. This is a bad sign,” Liow said.

He said 98% of the total reported cases or 1,198 have recovered while the remaining 2% or 21 cases were receiving anti-viral treatment at the hospital and at home.

Asked whether the H1N1 cases involving six students from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Titiwangsa campus, who were quarantined was a new cluster case, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican confirmed the cases but said that it was not a new cluster.

Meanwhile the AP said Hong Kong reported its second swine flu-related death after a Filipino housekeeper with the disease died.

Health authorities said in a statement that the 37-year-old woman was in critical condition requiring mechanical ventilation before she died on Monday.

The statement also late Monday said she developed fever, sore throat, running nose and diarrhea after her arrival in the city on June 28. It says she sought medical treatment a week later.

The city’s Center for Health Protection says her case has been referred to coroner for investigation.

Earlier this month, a Filipino seaman was found to have suffered from the infection after his death.

Hong Kong now has 2,855 swine flu cases.

In New Zealand woman had a novel defense when she appeared in court on a drunk-driving charge: It was swine flu’s fault.

Business manager Deborah Karen Graham sought clemency for the charge in the southern city of Queenstown on Monday, saying the three glasses of wine she had consumed were more potent because she was recovering from the virus.

“She had swine flu. She was just getting over it … and she thinks because she had the flu it may have hit her harder,” said Graham’s defense counsel Nicole Murphy.

Judge Kevin Phillips was having none of it.

“Swine flu seems to be the ‘in’ submission for everything at the moment. I reject all that,” he said, fining Graham $360 and disqualifying her from driving for six months.

New Zealand has been hard hit by swine flu, with 2,662 confirmed cases reported, including 14 deaths.

Several public hospitals, swamped by seasonal and swine flu sufferers, have suspended nonessential surgery to ensure beds are available for flu victims.

The country is in the middle of winter, when flu and other cold weather illnesses sweep the population, keeping tens of thousands home from work and leaving millions more sniffling.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said he had no evidence that people are using swine flu as an excuse to stay away from work or school.

“I think people are quite genuine – if they are sick they are staying away. I haven’t had any reports of people doing it for that sort of purpose,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

El Salvador meanwhile decided to close schools nationwide for two weeks to combat the spread of swine flu.

The measures extends already scheduled vacations beginning Monday until Aug. 10.

Schools in the Central American country normally close for two days to one week during the period, depending on the region.

The Education Ministry said Monday the measure applies to 6,221 schools and nearly 2 million students from grade school to university.

El Salvador has confirmed 545 cases of swine flu, including seven deaths.

Israel has suffered its first death in the global swine flu epidemic, the country’s Health Ministry announced Monday.

An Israeli man died of complications resulting from the virus over the weekend at Yoseftal Hospital in the Red Sea town of Eilat, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry and the hospital would not release the man’s name, but Israeli media identified him as Shimon Azran, 35.

Lab tests on Monday confirmed swine flu was the cause of death.

The ministry says there have been more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the flu in Israel.

First identified in April, swine flu originated in Mexico and spread quickly throughout the world.

It has hit the United States harder than anywhere else, having likely infected more than 1 million Americans.

There have been 302 deaths and nearly 44,000 laboratory-identified cases in the United States, according to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because the swine flu virus is new, most people haven’t developed an immunity to it.

So far, most of those who have died from it in the United States have had other health problems, such as asthma.

The virus has caused an unusual number of serious illnesses in teens and young adults, unlike the seasonal flu, which is usually most dangerous to the elderly and very young children.

Saudi Arabia also reported its first swine flu death Monday.

Source : The Star

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