First swine flu death outside Americas reported (Lead)

June 15th, 2009 - 6:20 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 15 (DPA) The first swine flu death outside the Americas was reported in Scotland, a government spokesman said Sunday in Glasgow.
The death follows about 145 deaths in the Americas, mostly in Mexico, the epicentre of the disease, and the US. An estimated 30,000 people in 74 countries have been infected, says the World Health Organization, which Thursday raised the pandemic influenza alert system to its highest level, Phase 6.

Researchers are racing to produce a vaccine before winter sets in in northern climates, and they are watching closely how the H1N1 virus develops during winter in South America’s southern hemisphere.

The Scottish patient, who died in hospital, had underlying health conditions and was one one of ten people who were being treated for swine flu in hospital in Scotland, the government spokesman said.

For all of Britain, the total of infections has reached at least 1,250 cases. The Scottish government has tallied a total of 498 cases of the influenza virus (H1N1) to date, including another 35 cases reported Sunday.

Family members of the swine flu victim asked that further details not be released, to allow them time to mourn. The sex of the victim as well as the name of the hospital were not released. The clinic was reportedly in Glasgow.

Health officials urge preventive measures such as frequent hand washing and covering mouth and nose with the elbow to prevent the spread through coughs or sneezes. The symptoms are typical of flu, including fever, aches and coughing.

For most people, the symptoms have been mild. Most of the fatalities have occurred in people already weakened by other illness.

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