First Swine flu death in Lanka

By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

A 16-year-old boy in Kandy has died of H1N1 (Swine flu), the first reported death in Sri Lanka of this global pandemic flu, senior health officials confirmed yesterday.

The victim, son of two doctors, died on Wednesday night at the Kandy Teaching Hospital, the officials said. The Medical Research Institute confirmed that the death was caused by H1N1, the officials who declined to be identified, said.

Officials stressed, however, that there was no cause for alarm and urged the public not to panic. “This boy had other complications including spinal and lung problems which could have aggravated the illness and placed him in a high-risk category,” one official explained.

They advised the public to go to the nearest hospital if anyone has a persistent fever for more than two days and flu-like symptoms as most state hospitals are geared to handle H1N1, while Base Hospitals which have consultants have been issued with anti-viral drugs to deal with the virus, an official said. The anti-virals should be taken only on the recommendation of a consultant who has clinically diagnosed H1N1 and deems it the right time to administer them, he said.

Although earlier H1N1 was diagnosed among those coming from abroad and their close contacts, the “community spread” of this flu has now begun in the country. Up to October 15, 115 H1N1-affected people had been detected through the airport surveillance mechanism.

Factbox: H1N1 is a new influenza virus which started spreading in Mexico in April this year. It is like any other flu, and the symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting.

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