Bangladesh Confirms First Swine Flu Death
Monday, 31 August 2009

The government has confirmed the first H1N1 death in Bangladesh. Doctors at Lab Aid Hospital in Dhaka said the victim was a 35-year old woman.

"A swine flu positive patient died last night at a private hospital in the capital," Mahmudur Rahman, director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told on Monday.

Rahman said the patient had been suffering severe symptoms and complications related to swine flu.

"This is the first recorded swine flu fatality in Bangladesh," he said.

A senior doctor at Lab Aid Hospital in Dhanmondi told that Mitali Chakravarty, 35, a swine flu patient in critical condition, died at around 10.30pm on Sunday night.

Mitali, of Savar's Uttar Para, was one IEDCR's confirmed H1N1 cases, Dr Samiran Kumar Saha, professor of medicine at Lab Aid and the patient's supervising doctor, told on the night.

She was admitted to Savar's Enam Medical College Hospital on Aug 16 with suspected dengue, but when it was clear her symptoms did not match dengue, and might be swine flu, Mita was transferred to Lab Aid Hospital in Dhanmondi, her family said.

"Mitali was admitted to Lab Aid Hospital on Aug 20, and subsequent tests of IEDCR confirmed she had contracted the H1N1, or swine flu, virus," said Saha.

"Her condition was serious as she was suffering complications with pneumonia."

The death came a day after officials in Bangladesh said the country's alert level may be raised from 2 to 3, signalling an epidemic.

IEDCR, the institute within the health ministry that is responsible for disease surveillance and outbreak response, confirmed 14 new cases on Monday morning, taking the government's tally of recorded swine flu cases to 213.

Alert level may be raised

Officials and experts at a swine flu seminar on Saturday said Bangladesh may soon raise its H1N1 alert to level 3, signalling an epidemic, in light of the recent jumps in the number of detected swine flu cases.

Saturday also saw a record leap in the official swine flu count, with 31 new cases detected in a single day.

Senior scientific officer of IEDCR Mushtuq Husain said the country was now at alert level 2, but could soon be at level 3, as the rising number of detected cases gave an indication of the actual spread of the virus across the country.

Officials said the virus was now being transmitted at higher rates within the country but there was no cause for panic.

They stressed the need for better dissemination of information about swine flu to ensure people in both urban and rural areas get proper treatment and take simple measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Husein said there was no reason to fear, "We have been alert since the day WHO declared a pandemic."

The World Health Organization declared a global H1N1 flu pandemic on June 11. Bangladesh's first case was detected on June 18.

"An action plan has been developed to fight this sort of situation," said Husein.

"It will require stricter control at airports and other immigration points as well as clinical measures."


Health minister AFM Ruhul Haq had said earlier this month that the regional scenario, including the growing swine flu fatalities reported in India, was "alarming" for Bangladesh, but the country was prepared to deal with the situation.

The government has sufficient stocks of flu drugs—with almost 30 million doses of oseltamivir, commonly known by brand name Tamiflu, in stock—while doctors are receiving specialised training on a rolling basis throughout the country.

IEDCR advises schools and offices to grant leave to anyone who displays symptoms of the flu.


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