Chicago Reports Its First Swine Flu Death, Nation's 12th
CHICAGO – A Chicago-area 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.
"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.
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. But New York health officials reported another death over the weekend.
Arnold said in a statement that the victim had other medical conditions, but authorities released no other information about the person.
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 remain 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.
In the Mexican port of Veracruz, a sculptor is putting the finishing touches on a bronze statue of a 5-year-old boy who is the country's earliest confirmed case of swine flu. The boy, Edgar Hernandez, recovered after being treated with antibiotics, and state officials said the statue will be a symbol of hope.
A spokesman for Veracruz state, Jorge Brandy, said the statue would be erected in the central park of La Gloria, a pig-farming village in the mountains where scientists trying to learn where the epidemic began are taking blood samples from residents and pigs.