CHICAGO – A Chicago resident has died of swine flu, the first death in Illinois and the 12th nationally, from the illness, health authorities said Monday.
Authorities in Mexico, where the swine flu outbreak was identified in April, announced three more deaths, raising its total to 83, and Canada reported its second death.
Sanofi Pasteur said Monday it has won a $190 million order from the United States government to make a swine flu vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur, which operates flu vaccine production plants at Swiftwater, Pa., and in Val de Reuil, in France, said it could begin commercial production in June.
"With as many cases of H1N1 influenza that have been reported in Illinois, we have been concerned that there would be fatalities," said Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state lists 896 confirmed cases of the illness, known both as H1N1 and swine flu.
Before the latest reports, the World Health Organization tallied at least 91 deaths around the globe from more than 12,500 swine flu cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 10 deaths and 6,700 cases in the U.S., most of them mild. New York health officials reported another death over the weekend.
At least 46 countries have confirmed cases, according to WHO. Puerto Rico reported its first case Monday, making it the second Caribbean island to confirm the illness. The man is recuperating at home.
Arnold said in a statement that the victim in Chicago had other medical conditions, but authorities released no other information about the person. The health department said the victim died over the weekend.
Arnold said that although public attention to the outbreak has waned, people with high risk medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, lung disease and pregnancy should be particularly cautious.
"We know the virus is still circulating in the state and I would like to remind everyone, especially those with chronic medical conditions, to continue taking steps to keep from getting the flu," Arnold said.
When the flu first was reported last month, the reaction was swift in Illinois and other places.
Students from colleges to kindergartens were told not to shake hands to avoid contracting the disease, and many schools were closed, sidelining hundreds of students.
But many of those precautions stopped after health officials said the flu didn't appear to be as virulent as first feared.
In Canada, officials said Monday that a Toronto man who had swine flu but also suffered a chronic medical condition died Saturday. Dr. David Williams, Ontario's acting chief medical officer of health, said in a statement the coroner was investigating to determine what role swine flu played in the fatality.
Mexico announced three more deaths tied to swine flu, and officials there unveiled a $90 million campaign aimed at luring back tourists. The government-funded push will feature ads with opera singer Placido Domingo, champion golfer Lorena Ochoa and other national heroes.
Tourism is Mexico's third-largest source of legal foreign income, but worries over swine flu have stemmed the flow of visitors and pushed hotel occupancy to a record low.