Three more swine flu deaths include one previously healthy patient
Three more people died of the A/H1N1 virus in Germany on Friday, including for the first time, a person with no underlying health problems, authorities reported.
Perhaps of most concern for the wider population is the death of a 48-year-old woman in Bonn, who died on Friday morning. She had not suffered from any other health problems, according to a spokesman for the Bonn University Hospital, where she was treated in the intensive care unit before she died. Doctors are so far unable to explain why the virus made her so ill.
A five-year-old boy from Saarbrücken died in the afternoon, yet the health authorities in the state added that he was severely disabled and had suffered lung problems before becoming infected with the so-called swine flu.
A 16-year-old boy also died on Friday, in the Augsburg Central Hospital, Bavaria. A report in the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper said he was severely disabled.
It would seem the number of reported and confirmed cases is increasing, with the Robert Koch Institute registering more than 25, 000 new cases between April and October 20. The number of deaths connected to the disease is now six in Germany.
The country’s biggest ever vaccination programme started last Monday, in nearly all German states, initially for medical staff and other people considered particularly at risk.
Ordinary citizens will soon be able to get themselves inoculated too, although a long debate about the safety of the vaccines on offer, and the generally mild effects of the disease, has left many people unwilling to do so.
Vaccine expert Michael Pfleiderer, from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which manages vaccines for the government, says he expected that reluctance to get vaccinated to change quickly.
“I know the mood can change overnight, as it did in the USA, as soon as the number of those seriously ill rose, and the hospital beds became full,” he told the weekly business magazine, Wirtschaftswoche.
New Health Minister Philipp Rösler said that he felt the seasonal flu to be currently more dangerous than swine flu. He told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he would first get himself vaccinated against the former, before protecting himself against the latter.
Yet he said those people in high risk categories should follow the advice of the authorities and get themselves vaccinated against swine flu.