(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Fifty quarantined as first H1N1 death reported

Image of the H1N1 influenza virus, taken in the CDC Influenza Laboratory

At least 50 people have been quarantined in Tanzania's northern district of Mbulu to curb the spread of influenza H1N1, a highly contagious viral disease that killed one person last week, say health officials.

The death is the first in East Africa.

"We are struggling to control [the] further spread of the disease. Until late yesterday [11 October], the number of people suspected to have been infected had reached 158," said Anael Pallangyo, Mbulu District Medical Officer.

Pallangyo said a 40-year-old primary school teacher died of H1N1 at the local district hospital where she was admitted for treatment two days earlier. All 18 dispensaries in the district were now on alert and about 50 patients placed in isolation wards.

Tanzanian health authorities have stepped up surveillance at all the country's entry points, where people with flu-related symptoms such as coughing, fever and sneezing are taken to hospital for screening and treatment.

The ministry of health recently announced 172 confirmed cases of H1N1 at the end of September.

As of 9 October, 24 countries in Africa had officially reported 12,456 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H1N1, including 70 deaths, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO). South Africa has reported most of the cases at 11,545 and 59 deaths.

WHO, however, notes that the reported number of cases understates the real number as countries are no longer required to test and report individual cases.


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