Swine flu claims second victim in Portugal

The H1N1 virus has claimed its second death in Portugal as the Portuguese Directorate-General of Health admitted over the weekend that statistics showed that between 20 and 40 per cent of fatalities worldwide were apparently healthy individuals.

So far doctors and specialists have claimed that only people with underlying health problems such as obesity, asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and immune deficiency problems such as HIV/AIDS were most at risk of developing potentially life-threatening secondary complications as a result of contracting the virus.

Now, that idea has been cast aside after an apparently healthy and high-profile CDS-PP party candidate in the local elections for Ourém Câmara succumbed to the swine flu over the weekend after contracting the illness while on holiday in the Algarve.

Lawyer Diogo Alvim, aged 49, died in Lisbon’s Curry Cabral Hospital on Saturday of progressive organ and respiratory failure and had been on a respiratory-support system since August 25.

Although a smoker, the patient had no previous history of underlying diseases or illnesses that would have predisposed him to developing such fatal secondary complications which included pulmonary pneumonia.

Filipe Froes, a consultant pneumologist and pulmonary specialist advising the Directorate-General of Health since the beginning of the illness in Portugal, says that current studies suggest that 20 to 40 per cent of fatalities because of the H1N1 virus did not manifest any known history of underlying illness and were apparently healthy.

In the United Kingdom, for example, one third of fatality victims (86 in total) had not exhibited any chronic illness which made the risk of developing complications more likely.

Since May this year, 11,831 cases of H1N1 have been registered in Portugal, with 2,983 cases confirmed by laboratory tests.

Of these, 20 have been hospitalised, seven in a serious state of health requiring intensive care, with two fatalities.

The Portuguese government announced over the weekend that priority cases were to begin receiving vaccinations from October 12, including pregnant women and patients with chronic chest and immunodeficiency illnesses.

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