Over 700 Infected with Swine Flu in Venezuela -- 8 Dead
With 6 dead and over 700 cases in just the last two weeks, the rapidly rising numbers are leading experts to think that the latest outbreak could kill more than the 131 who died in the original 2009 emergence.
CARACAS – The outbreak of the AH1N1 flu virus affecting Venezuela since March 17 has caused six deaths and has infected 712 people, bringing the number of fatalities this year to eight, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said on Saturday.
“The eight deaths that we have had so far this year from the AH1N1 flu have been patients with chronic pathologies,” Sader said, adding that the latest six were victims of the mid-March outbreak in the Andean state of Tachira in northwestern Venezuela, where an international fair had just been held.
“The outbreak is limited to Merida, but we’re sorry to say that the deaths of four of those who were infected with the AH1N1 flu suffered other illnesses that caused the complications that took their lives” in the last few days, the minister told a press conference.
Of the six fatalities caused by the outbreak since March, two of them occurred in Merida, another two in the central state of Aragua including a prisoner suffering from “acute cardiopathy,” one in the central state of Carabobo, and the last, a pregnant woman, in the northwestern state of Tachira, Sader said.
The outbreak has affected 20 out of every 100,000 people in Merida and eight out of every 100,000 in Caracas, where lab tests have confirmed the infection of 174 patients, she said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said last Sunday that the outbreak “is under control” and called on citizens “not to panic.”
“This is a difficult situation but it’s under control, it’s controllable and should be no cause for panic or anxiety but of concern and for taking the proper measures,” the head of state said.
Between April 2009 and January 2010 the first outbreak of swine flu killed 131 people, according to statistics from the Health Ministry.