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21 Sep, 2009 09:30

First Russian swine flu death not confirmed

A leading virologist claims a female doctor who had recently returned from Bulgaria has died from swine flu. Russia’s Public Health and Social Development Ministry, however, has refuted the claim.

According to Russian medical sciences' academy official Dmitry Lvov, the patient died in early September.

“The day before she died her tests were handed over to our group, and we immediately diagnosed it as swine flu, but we could not take any measures because she died the very next day,” Lvov told the Interfax news agency.

Head of the respiratory disease lab at Russia’s Science Academy’s Virus Institute Ludmila Kolobovskaya blamed an accompanying pathology and lack of immediate treatment.

“The woman had an accompanying pathology and was in a high-risk group. Plus she was admitted only at a late stage, she was waiting for 13 days. She had to take Tamiflu, when the first symptoms of the disease appeared,” Kolobovskaya told Itar-Tass, adding that because of the pathology there was no 100% guarantee that early care would’ve saved the patient.

However, Russia’s Public Health and Social Development Ministry has refuted the claim.

During the morning press briefing deputy minister Veronika Skvortsova stated clearly that “there were no proven cases of A/H1N1 virus mortality in Russian Federation.”

Medical officials say around 380 people have been diagnosed with swine flu in Russia so far. In most cases the virus is contracted by tourists who return from the UK, Spain and Bulgaria.

Armed with a budget of $130 million Russian scientists have worked out new vaccines against swine flu. The vaccines are being tested and a mass inoculation is planned before the end of the year.

The latest report from the World Health Organisation says some 4,114 people have died as a result of catching swine flu worldwide. However, other analysts claim that the mortality rate is not significantly higher than that of the “ordinary” flu, from which some two million die annually.