Portugal Records First Swine Flu Death: Health Minister

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 24 2009 2:33 PM

A 41-year-old Portuguese man who lives in France died Wednesday in Portugal after contracting swine flu, becoming the nation's first fatality from the A(H1N1) virus, Health Minister Ana Jorge said.

The man, who suffered from kidney trouble and was on holiday in Portugal, died at a hospital in the northern city of Oporto, she told reporters.

"The 41-year-old patient, who had a kidney transplant 14 years ago and whose body was rejecting the organ, had been hospitalised in France where he lives," she said.

"He was discharged at his request at the end of August and he traveled to Portugal several days later," she added.

He was diagnosed as having the disease at the Santo Antonio Hospital in Oporto on September 15 -- 12 days after he was admitted with an abdominal infection and pneumonia.

The hospital decided to test several patients, including the deceased man, for the A(H1N1) virus after it detected two cases of the disease, Jorge said.

"Health services and the general population should remain calm and respect all the instructions which have been continuously given," she added.

Earlier Wednesday the health ministry said a total of 2,213 cases of the A(H1N1) virus were diagnosed in Portugal, a nation of just over 10 million people, during the week that ended on Sunday.

During that week 20 people were hospitalised with the virus, including eight who were intensive care, it said in a statement.

Over 3,000 people have died of the disease since it was uncovered in April in Mexico, according to the World Health Organization.

It has estimated that as many as two billion people could become infected over the next two years -- nearly one-third of the world's population.

Swine flu is the first flu pandemic in 40 years. The last one in 1968 killed about one million people.