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Judy dead at 33 from suspected swine flu

  • May 6, 2009
Judy Trunnel ... swine flu victim.

Judy Trunnel ... swine flu victim. Photo: AP/ Courtesy Garza Funeral Home

A 33-year-old teacher who had just given birth to a healthy baby is the first US resident who is believed to have died from swine flu,  officially known as influenza (A)H1N1.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said on its website that "a woman from Cameron County who had chronic underlying health conditions died earlier this week" after contracting the virus.

The US victim has been identified in US media as Judy Trunnell, from Texas.

ABC2 in the US reported that she had been in a coma after being admitted to hospital with breathing problems on April 19.

It said her eight-month-old baby was delivered by caesarian section. She also had a four-year-old daughter.

The Springfield News-Sun website reported that health officials stopped short of saying that swine flu caused her death. State health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said the woman had chronic underlying health conditions but wouldn t give any more details.

Her death was announced as US health officials confirmed a spike in the number of confirmed infections, but played down the rise as probably due to more widespread testing.

A Mexican boy died in the US last month from the virus.

Richard Besser, acting head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news briefing that there were more than 403 confirmed cases in the US, up from 286 reported on Monday.

The spike "doesn't reflect transmission as much as that we're catching up with the testing", he added.

"As we get these test kits out to state labs and as they get up to speed, some of the backlog that they've had on testing will go away and we'll see a big bump in the number of cases," he said.

So far, only 35 people have been admitted to hospital in the US.

"What we're seeing is rates of hospitalisation that are similar to what we see with seasonal flu," Mr Besser said.

But, given that seasonal flu sends about 200,000 people to hospital and kills about 36,000 people in the US each year, he said that health officials "expect to see additional hospitalisations and it's likely we would see additional deaths" from the virus.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also warned that there would most likely be more cases, more admissions to hospital and more deaths in the US, even though the virus was not as severe as had been feared when it was first detected in Mexico last month.

Twenty-six deaths in Mexico have been blamed on the virus.

smh.com.au AFP

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