Kobe man second to die from swine flu

KOBE (Kyodo) A 77-year-old man who had been suffering from several chronic diseases died Tuesday after being infected with swine flu, Kobe officials said.

The man, who lived in Tarumi Ward, Kobe, is the second person in Japan to die in connection with the H1N1 virus. A 57-year-old man in Okinawa died Saturday.

The Kobe man, whose name was not released, had been ill with pulmonary emphysema, diabetes, high blood pressure and renal failure for which he had been undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week. He died because the flu caused acute bronchitis, leading to deterioration of his pulmonary emphysema that eventually killed him, the officials said.

He had a fever of 39 degrees Sunday and went to see a doctor Monday. Suspecting pneumonia, the doctor tested him for swine flu, but it turned out negative.

The doctor sent him to a different hospital, where he underwent another test for swine flu and tested positive for type-A flu.

Because he was having difficulty breathing, he was given Tamiflu.

The man died at 6:20 a.m. Tuesday after his condition quickly worsened, officials said. Further tests revealed that he had swine flu.

From Aug. 10 to 14, when he is suspected to have been infected with the flu, he was at his home except for a trip to the hospital for his other ailments. In the Okinawa case, the patient, a resident of Ginowan, had an ailing heart and kidneys, prefectural officials said.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Tuesday that the number of influenza patients reported per medical institution in Japan has almost reached a level indicating the start of an epidemic.

Most of the patients are believed to be infected with the new H1N1 strain of influenza A, officials said.

The number of patients reported by about 5,000 designated medical institutions across Japan during the week of Aug. 3 to 9 stood at 4,630, or 0.99 per facility on average, almost matching the 1.00 figure that is deemed the beginning of an epidemic.