Swine flu (H1N1) strain kills 17 in Venezuela, may become epidemic

By Enozia Vakil , May 28, 2013 08:52 AM EDT

An outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) has claimed the lives of 17 in Venezuela, which may signal an upcoming epidemic, former Venezuelan health minister Rafael Orihuela claims.

With over 250 people infected, and 17 dead, a swine flu epidemic is possible.

Venezuela's government, however, has not yet confirmed the figures given by media and newspapers, and with high-risk patients and groups being immunized, the situation is expected to be under control. Around 3 million vaccinations were carried out in Venezuela so far, according to the government.

"We have officially registered 11 cases and sadly have two people dead from this disease here in Aragua state as of now" Aragua Gov. Tareck El Aissami said. He added that "we are taking all the epidemiological measures".

With one death in Lara state, and 16 infected there out of the assumed 65 cases, and over 125 confirmed cases in the western state of Merida, hopefully, the situation may be controlled, and an epidemic could be prevented.

"We're suffering a tail-end of the pandemic," Orihuela said.

The World Health Organisation's official data revales that 18,500 people fell prey to the 2009-2010 pandemic of swine flu; however, a study published in The Lancet last year claims that the death toll might have been 15 times higher - more than 280,000.

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