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More Deaths Suspected From Influenza A Complications

Posted August. 31, 2009 07:33,   


More people might have died of complications from influenza in addition to the three confirmed deaths from influenza A (H1N1).

Park Seung-cheol, the head of national advisers for influenza A, said yesterday, “Prior to the outbreak of influenza A, statistics on the influenza virus were not compiled. Even if someone died of complications from seasonal flu, we have no way of knowing that.”

Seasonal influenza is categorized as Type 3 among infectious diseases in Korea. Health authorities announce the estimated number of patients only from sample medical institutions rather than indentifying all infected patients.

Even if someone died of complications from pneumonia due to influenza infection, he or she is declared to have died from pneumonia without undergoing a separate virus test.

A substantial difference separates responding to seasonal influenza and influenza A. Influenza A is categorized as Type 4, which means all medical institutions must report potential and infected patients and those who died from the inflection to health authorities. If those who died of pneumonia test positive for the virus, the cause of death is ruled to be influenza A.

As a result, some say the risk of death from influenza A has been exaggerated. A staff member at a hospital where a 67-year-old asthma patient became Korea’s third person to die of influenza A said, “Though the influenza A virus was detected, the main cause of his death looks like respiratory trouble. In other words, influenza A might not have had a substantial impact.”