Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday reported the Philippines’ first fatality linked to Influenza A(H1N1), whom he identified only as a 49-year-old female from Metro Manila.
A DOH bulletin yesterday said the 49-year-old known to have a pre-existing chronic heart disease, was found to be positive for A(H1N1).
The patient had flu-like symptoms starting on June 17 consisting of dry cough, fever and chills and difficulty of breathing just before death on June 19, Duque said.
Duque said that post-autopsy findings disclosed that the death was caused by congestive heart failure secondary to acute myocardial infarction aggravated by severe pneumonia either bacterial, viral or both.
“Given the available information, we cannot conclude that the death is due to A(H1N1). But in other countries which have reported A(H1N1) deaths, majority have pre-existing medical conditions. We condole with the family of the patient as we mourn her untimely death,” Duque said.
Because of this first reported case of death in a patient with an incidental finding of A(H1N1) in the country, Duque said that the DOH will be more aggressive in targeting segments of patients with a high vulnerability to fatal flu complications saying that they should be the ones receiving the most care and attention by healthcare professionals.
“We want to make it clear that high-risk groups, once they have the flu symptoms, should immediately go to their doctor. They should not wait for their symptoms to worsen because they are prone to many infections other than the novel virus such as our seasonal flu strains,” he said.
“These are patients with uncontrolled diabetes, frank cardiovascular disease, COPD, organ transplant recipients, those who are immuno-compromised, those with chronic liver and kidney disease, people suffering from other infections like HIV/AIDs and TB, pregnant women and the very young and the elderly,” Duque added.
Duque stressed that globally and locally, the overwhelming majority of cases only experience mild symptoms and, eventually, make a rapid and full recovery, often even without any form of medical intervention.
“It is prudent for parents to seek professional care for children with rapid breathing, excessive drowsiness or dehydration. In adults, chest pain, prolonged fever or labored breathing should prompt warnings to see a doctor,” Duque said.
Duque advised the public to continue heeding the recommendations of the DOH on proper hand washing, cough etiquette, and other hygiene practices.
“The best defense against A(H1N1) and other diseases is to boost your immune system. Most people can fight off this virus without special medications or hospitalization. You can stay at home and take supportive care like plenty of fluids, vitamins and bed rest,” Duque stressed.
The Philippines, so far, has 445 confirmed A(H1N1) cases, 84 percent of whom have recovered, he said.
In Western Visayas, seven new suspected A(H1N1) cases were under observation yesterday bringing to 50 the total number of COUs in the region, but positive cases remained at six, the DOH reported
Three of the confirmed cases have been discharged, one has just completed medication, and two are still undergoing treatment, the report added.
Of the 50 COUs in Western Visayas from May 18 to June 22, 2009, 35 are from Iloilo, 19 from Negros Occidental, four – Capiz and two – Aklan, the DOH report said.
Of the confirmed A(H1N1) cases four are from Negros Occidental, one from Iloilo and one from Capiz.*