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Influenza A(H1N1) claims fourth victim (Updated 5:52pm)

PUTRAJAYA, 29 July 2009: A 20-year-old Malaysian woman died from  Influenza A(H1N1) yesterday, bringing the number of deaths due to the outbreak in this country to four.

Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said the victim died at the Malacca Hospital due to severe community-acquired pneumonia. Samples taken from her throat yesterday showed she had Influenza A(H1N1).

“She had been having fever, sore throat and cough since 16 July, and although her condition worsened, she only sought treatment at Malacca Hospital on 26 July, where her chest X-ray showed that she had pneumonia.

“The same day at 8:30pm, she was transferred to the intensive care unit when she had breathing difficulty and required a ventilator to breathe.

“On Monday, the patient developed complications, including septicaemia secondary to community-acquired pneumonia, acute renal failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, and died at 9:40am yesterday,” he told reporters here today.

Ismail, who had earlier chaired the 10th meeting of the Influenza A(H1N1) Pandemic Technical Committee, said the rising number of deaths from the disease in this country was worrying, especially when the victims sought treatment late or the doctors failed to detect the infection early.

Hence, he said, the meeting today decided that all medical practitioners, whether in public and private hospitals or clinics, must have an index of suspicion for pneumonia cases that must be investigated for possible A(H1N1) infection.

“Throat swabs must be taken from severe pneumonia cases in hospitals to be tested for the disease. Patients [must be] given anti-viral treatment and the history of their influenza-like illness and Influenza A(H1N1) infections [must be] noted.

“I hope after four deaths, people will be more alert. If you don’t feel well, if you have symptoms like breathing difficulty, put on a face mask and seek treatment early.

“All this shows that we (doctors) need to strengthen our examination techniques … we are alerting doctors to examine all patients thoroughly, especially those with respiratory symptoms and unusual clinical features,” he said.

Ismail said all severe pneumonia cases due to suspected Influenza A(H1N1) must be given influenza anti-viral medicine with increased doses.

He said laboratory tests for A(H1N1), which so far could only be done at the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) and Sungai Buloh Hospital, would be extended to government hospitals in the states, as well as training and facilities.

He disclosed that 21 private hospitals had been supplied with enough influenza anti-viral medicine to treat patients and suspected cases of the disease.

“We will top up the supply from time to time, so there is no more excuse for private hospitals to push patients to government hospitals,” he said.

On the current situation, he said 47 new cases had been reported natiowide, all of which were locally transmitted. The new cases bring the total number so far to 1,266, including the four deaths. Of the figure, 574 or 45% are imported cases, while 692 are locally transmitted.

Ismail said 1,233 cases or 97% have recovered, with 24 cases receiving anti-viral treatment in hospitals, and nine at home.

On the global situation, he said 169,753 cases with 1,125 deaths had been reported in 159 countries as of this morning, an increase of 6,038 cases with 100 deaths since yesterday. — Bernama

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