18 August, 2009

Malaysia AH1N1: 67 fatalities and the figures will increase.

Malaysia's total deaths due to Influenza A(H1N1) has increased to 67 to date since the first fatality four weeks ago, with three more fatalities reported today.

The Health Ministry's estimation that the current mortality rate of those infected is below 0.4% may be flawed as the total number of confirmed cases reported on Aug 17 was 4,225 and the total death then was 64. Based on that, the mortality rate has reached 1.5%.

The latest deaths involve a 33-year-old woman, a 10-year-old girl and a 71-year-old senior citizen.

Health director-general Tan Sri Mohd Ismail Merican said in a statement, the woman in the first case was referred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on Aug 7 where her pneumonia worsened after receiving treatment in a private hospital for four days.

"The patient was reported to be down with cough and fever since July 31. She initially received treatment in a private clinic for two days before being referred to a private hospital due to pneumonia on Aug 3," he said.

The woman received antiviral treatment from Aug 7 onwards and died on Aug 12 due to severe bronchopneumonia and was confirmed positive for A(H1N1) on the same day.

Mohd Ismail said the 10-year-old victim was admitted to hospital on July 27 and was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE).

SLE is a chronic, multifaceted inflammatory disease that can affect every organ system of the body.

"Antiviral treatment was given on Aug 7 onwards but she died on Aug 13 due to SLE with severe with renal impairment. The girl was confirmed with A(H1N1) on the same day," Mohd Ismail said.

He said the third fatality which involved a senior citizen, who had Chronic Obstrutive Airway (COAD), Hypertension, Ischaemic Heart Disease and Type II Diabetes Mellitus, was confirmed positive A(H1N1) on Aug 15.

"He was down with fever, cough and breathing difficulty for two days and was admitted in hospital on Aug 12 and received antiviral treatment on the same day," Mohd Ismail said.

The patient died on Aug 14 due to Ischaemic Dilated Cardiomyopathy precipitated by pnuemonia and was confirmed to be infected with the virus the next day.

Mohd Ismail said there are 276 patients being treated in hospitals nationwide with 36 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Twenty-one of the those in ICU are from the high risk group including two mentally disabled and three children below one.

The public is asked to follow the latest developments and take preventive steps by referring to the special HiN1 website http://h1n1.moh.gov.my or calling the hotlines 03-88810200 and 03-88810300.

With the death toll due to swine flu climbing steadily, Malaysia has termed the outbreak as a "national health emergency" but noted that a health curfew would not be imposed unless the mortality rate went above 0.4 per cent.

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the H1N1 virus' mortality rate was currently between 0.1 and 0.4 per cent in Malaysia.

"It is not up to the Health Ministry. We will monitor the situation and we still have to discuss with them."

Liow said stern measures, including a curfew, might be announced if the virus "misbehaved". "At the moment the virus is not changing. It is attacking the high-risk group, so they must pay particular attention to it."

He added, however, there was a possibility that the virus could generate a deadlier second wave.

"If there are any signs of a second wave, we will make an announcement early. During the rainy season, children can easily get the flu and we are worried that it can mix with H1N1 and change the characteristics."

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