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Author: news
Published: 2009-08-16 19:52:12
Last edit: 2009-07-03 14:12:52
Tags: australia calm death flu urges
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Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the death of a three-year-old boy with A(H1N1) influenza was a "tragedy," but emphasised that the virus was mild in most cases.

"I want to assure people that they should not be unduly alarmed," Roxon said.

"This is a serious disease and it can be severe in some people, but it is mild for most people," she added.

Roxon said police and the coroner were investigating the case of the boy, who was reportedly found dead by his mother in their Melbourne home last Friday morning.

Authorities did not attribute the toddler’s death to swine flu when they announced it late Wednesday, but did not mention any other possible causes.

The call for calm came as a 45-year-old man became the first man with swine flu to die in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

It was the ninth fatality related to the disease in Australia, the worst-hit nation in the Asia-Pacific region with 4,568 cases. None of the deaths has been confirmed as caused by swine flu.

"Because of underlying medical conditions this man was at greater risk of severe illness from H1N1 influenza 09," said Kerry Chant, the state’s chief health officer.

"We are waiting on formal findings from the coroner to determine the degree to which H1N1 may have contributed to the death," she added.

Separately, Sydney immunisation specialist Robert Booy said swine flu was likely to kill twice as many children over the next 12 months as regular influenza.

The professor estimated 10-12 children could die from the virus, compared with five or six from normal flu strains in a typical year.

"The likelihood is with this virus we’ll see more of the small number of severe (cases) than we do normally," he said.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Rosemary Lester has urged parents to monitor their children, while state premier John Brumby stressed the importance of basic hygiene measures.

"We are coming into flu season in the southern states and it’s getting colder and wetter and families should take the precautions that we’ve been stressing, and that is basic hygiene and washing hands, cover your face when you cough and use tissues," he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said authorities were using the best available medical advice to respond to the virus, which has killed 332 people and infected 77,201 worldwide.

"This is a very, very difficult disease and it’s affecting many countries around the world," he told reporters.

"This is very, very difficult and we will continue to take measures as recommended to us by the medical authorities."

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