Wash. Man Is Third U.S. H1N1 Death

Health - Swine Flu Generic - Swine Influenza, undated CDC Negative stain electron micrograph photo with man with protective face mask
Washington state health officials say a man in his 30s is the first person in the state - and the third in the U.S. - to die from what appears to be complications of the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.

The state Department of Health says in a news release that, like the first two U.S. H1N1 victims, the Snohomish County man had underlying heart conditions and also viral pneumonia at the time of his death May 6, but that he also had swine flu and it is considered a factor in the death.

"This death is tragic. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this man's passing," said Governor Chris Gregoire. "It's a sobering reminder that influenza is serious, and can be fatal."

The man was not further identified.

He reportedly began showing symptoms on April 30, and was treated with medications.

Health officials cautioned that the number of cases of swine flu in Washington are expected to continue rising for some time to come, and urged people to continue to practice preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing.

"We're working with local and federal partners to track this outbreak," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, "and while most illnesses from this new flu strain have been fairly mild, we must remember that influenza claims about 36,000 lives every year nationwide. That's why we urge people to take this outbreak, and the seasonal flu we see every year, very seriously."

Health officials said earlier Saturday that an additional 18 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Washington, bringing the state's total to 101.

Japan Tries To Contain Virus

Separately Saturday, Japanese authorities scrambled to track travelers who arrived on the same flight as three people diagnosed with the country's first confirmed cases of swine flu. Australia and Norway have also joined the ranks of affected countries with their first confirmed cases, and Costa Rica's health minister has confirmed the first death from swine flu in Central America.

Authorities in Tokyo quarantined a high school teacher and two teenage students who returned Friday from a school trip to Canada after they tested positive at the airport.

Australia also confirmed its first case of swine flu on Saturday, the health minister said. The woman who tested positive had arrived at Brisbane airport on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles on Thursday. The Queensland health department said in a statement the woman was no longer infectious when she boarded the plane.

In the Canadian province of Alberta, the chief medical officer on Friday confirmed the death of a woman infected with the virus. The woman, who was in her 30s and had other health problems, died April 28.

Officials said she had not left the country recently, but could not confirm whether she was in contact with anyone who had recently returned from Mexico, where swine flu has hit hardest. Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta's chief health officer, said 300 people who attended the woman's wake were being monitored for signs of the illness.

Costa Rica health minister Maria Luisa Avila told the Associated Press that a 53-year-old man died early Saturday. She said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed he had the swine flu virus.

The World Health Organization has said based on past outbreaks, it is possible that a third of the world's population, or about 2 billion people, could become infected if this outbreak turns into a two-year pandemic. Independent experts agreed it was possible but pointed out that many would not show any symptoms.

People with chronic illnesses are at greatest risk for severe illness from the flu, along with the elderly and young children. So far, most of those with the swine flu in the U.S. and Mexico have been young adults.

A report by the CDC said America's two swine flu deaths - a toddler and a pregnant woman who both died in Texas - each suffered from several other illnesses when they were infected with the virus.

Asia has been largely spared from the virus that continues to claim lives in worst-hit Mexico, which announced Saturday that the number of deaths had climbed to 48 even as it emerged from a national shutdown that closed schools and businesses and shuttered churches and soccer stadiums.

But since the outbreak began last month, several countries, including Japan, have screened air travelers for flu symptoms. But news reports said as many as 11 people on the Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit that landed in Tokyo on Friday avoided those screenings. Japan's national laboratory confirmed the virus in the teacher and two students.

The ministry said at least 13 people - believed to be separate from the reported 11 that the ministry was still investigating - had gone on to other destinations in transit from that flight, and efforts were under way to contact them through the World Health Organization.

Japanese Health and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe acknowledged it would be difficult to trace all those who came into contact with the three infected Japanese, who visited Ontario on a home-stay program with about 30 other students. The three were isolated and recovering at a hospital near Narita International Airport.

"There are limitations to what we can do, but we will continue to monitor the situation and strengthen or relax such measures as needed," he told reporters.

Public broadcaster NHK TV urged people who were aboard the flight to call a special telephone number for consultations. So far, 49 have been traced and will be monitored for 10 days, officials said.

But a handful of cases have cropped up in the region, including in South Korea and Hong Kong. The Chinese territory quarantined more than 200 people in a hotel after confirming its first case in a guest a week ago. They were released on Friday, and many were unable to contain their delight as they poured from the building for the first time in seven days. One man hugged a police officer and broke into song.

Australia reported its first case on Saturday in a woman it said was no longer infectious. She first noticed her symptoms while traveling in the U.S., federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon told reporters.

New Zealand - the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to confirm cases - reported two more on Saturday for a total of seven. The two high school students returned last month from a school trip to Mexico. Six of the country's cases were in students and a teacher on that trip; the seventh traveled on the same plane as the group.

Two Norwegian students, a man and woman both aged 20, have been diagnosed with swine flu after returning from a trip to Mexico, becoming the Scandinavian country's first confirmed cases, a health official said Saturday.

"Two persons have been infected," National Health Directorate spokeswoman Anne Kirkhusmo told the Associated Press. "They are both doing well. They have not been to

The man was from Oslo, the woman was from the city of Skien, she said.

Two other Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Denmark, earlier confirmed one case each of swine flu.

First H1N1 Case Down Under

Australia confirmed its first case of swine flu on Saturday, but the woman is no longer infectious and has a weak strain of the virus, the health minister said.

Test results on the woman in her 20s from New South Wales came back positive Saturday from the World Health Organization laboratory in Melbourne, federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon told reporters.

The woman, who was not named, first noticed symptoms on April 27 while in the United States but got better before returning to Brisbane on Thursday, Roxon said.

The woman arrived on Qantas Flight QF16 from Los Angeles and identified herself to a nurse at the airport, she said.

She was screened and swabbed at the airport, given a mask and told to stay in Brisbane while tests were conducted.

"She's fully recovered and the experts believe that she was not infections on that flight traveling from Los Angeles through to Brisbane. So, we do not believe that anyone has been at risk either on that flight or here in Brisbane from actually getting swine flu from her," Dr. Jeannette Young, Queensland's chief health officer, told reporters in Brisbane.

The woman had been staying with family in the Queensland capital of Brisbane while waiting for test results, but would now be allowed to travel home to New South Wales, Young said.

The Queensland health department said in a statement the woman was no longer infectious when she boarded her flight to Australia.

Still, the department would contact people from the flight sitting in the rows in front and behind the woman to see if any of them have flu-like symptoms.

"This is clearly a serious development but we are in a situation where the best medical advice seems to be indicating that this person wouldn't be infectious," Roxon said.

Dr. Young said: "We're just being very, very cautious."

Eighteen people in Australia are still awaiting test results to determine if they have swine flu.

H1N1 Briefs:

  • British health officials have confirmed eight new cases of swine flu, bringing the national total to 47. The Health Protection Agency said Saturday that six of the new cases are in children from a London school where several pupils already have the illness.

    The school has been closed and staff and students have been given antiviral drugs. The other two new cases are in adults from London and central England. None of the eight has been hospitalized.

  • Mexico has broken ties with its soccer counterparts in South America in the fallout from the refusal of Uruguay and Brazil clubs to play Copa Libertadores matches in Mexico following the swine flu outbreak.

    Mexican soccer clubs Chivas Guadalajara and San Luis withdrew from the Copa Libertadores on Friday. San Luis was to face Nacional of Uruguay, and Chivas was to play Sao Paulo of Brazil.

    Mexican federation president Justino Compean said at a news conference that the South American federation (CONMEBOL) did not seem to be negotiating in good faith. And he rejected a South American proposal to reduce the home-and-away series to one match to be played in Brazil and Uruguay.

    "As president of the FMF, I would like to announce that Mexican football will withdraw completely from all CONMEBOL competitions until we reach an agreement," Compean said. "If we want to compete, it has to be as equals. 'Fair play' must prevail."