QCOSTARICA The Health Ministry (Ministerio de Salud) confirmed the 29th victim of the H1N1 virus since December, the latest a six month old baby.

The infant died on January 18, in the Turrialba hospital, due to congenital malformation at birth, according to Health Minister, Fernando Castro Llora.

This is the third infant to die from Severe Acute Respiratory-tract Infections (SARI). The first death was of a three-year old, the second was a one year old, both died at the Children’s Hospital (Hospital Nacional de Niños) in San Jose.

On Tuesday, an elderly man died in the Heredia hospital due to the H1N1 virus. Health officials say they patient had not been vaccinated and had a history of chronic lung disease.

This graphic from La Nacion details the first 27 victims of which 55% were men and 44% women; the majority from San Jose; only 15% were vaccinated; the eldest victim was 81 years of age, the youngest one year old, the average age, 49. The numbers also indicate that 50% of the victims suffered from heart disease, 19% suffered from obesity and 31% from diabetes and other diseases.

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Health officials says in 85% of the deaths this year the victims had not been vaccinated. In a press release, the Health Ministry says it is coordinating with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (Caja) to have at each Ebais (community clinics) 10 slots in the morning hours for persons with flu symptoms.

Incubating the virus lasts seven days and usually symptomatic for about four days, the physical state depends on the person. Kids can be contagious for as long as 10 days.

H1N1 (swine flu) Symptoms. The flu is pretty much the same as seasonal flu. They can include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Like the regular flu, the H1N1 can lead to more serious problems including pneumonia, a lung infection, and other breathing problems. And it can make an illness like diabetes or asthma worse. If you have symptoms like shortness of breath, severe vomiting, pain in your belly or sides, dizziness, or confusion.

Despite the name, you can’t catch swine flu from eating bacon, ham, or any other pork product.

Respiratory transmission occurs mainly by droplets disseminated by unprotected coughs and sneezes.

Complications of influenza viral infection include: primary influenza viral pneumonitis, bacterial pneumonia, otitis media and exacerbation of underlying chronic conditions. Illness tends to be most severe in the elderly, in infants and young children.

From the World Health Organization (WHO):

Risk for travellers

Travellers, like local residents, are at risk in any country during the influenza season. In addition, groups of travellers that include individuals from areas affected by seasonal influenza (e.g. cruise ships) may experience out-of-season outbreaks. Travellers visiting countries in the opposite hemisphere during the influenza season are at special risk, particular if they do not have some degree of immunity through recent infection or regular vaccination. The elderly, people with pre-existing chronic diseases and young children are most susceptible to complications.

Precautions

Whenever possible, avoid crowded enclosed spaces and close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections. Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill persons or their environment, may reduce the risk of acquiring illness.

Ill persons should be encouraged to practise cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, wash hands).