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Germany

Two people die of swine flu in western Germany

A three-year-old girl and a 51-year-old man have died of influenza infection in Goettingen. In both cases, the swine flu virus H1N1 was confirmed. But health officials said on Monday that there was "no need to panic."

Swine flu virus

A1H1 was detected in both of the deceased patients

The Lower Saxony social affairs ministry confirmed on Monday that two patients died in recent days of infections caused by the H1N1 influenza virus.

Spokesman Thomas Spieker reported that a three-year-old girl and a 51-year-old man, both from Goettingen, who had been suffering from other conditions before catching the virus, died of the virus, which is commonly referred to as swine flu.

However, Spieker added that there "was no reason to panic," as fatalities were "possible during any flu season."

State health minister Ayguel Oezkan urged all citizens in Lower Saxony to take precautions, saying in a statement that the Goettingen cases showed "influenza is not a harmless illness, but rather that it can have fatal consequences."

Influenza infections in Lower Saxony have increased dramatically in the past week, according to the president of the state health office, Matthias Pulz.

In most of those cases, Pulz said the A1H1 virus had been detected.

But the Robert-Koch Institute, which advises the German government on health issues, said on Monday that the situation did not compare to the 2009 pandemic, as there was now adequate immunization.

Since the fall of 2009 - when the spread of the H1N1 virus led to the swine flu pandemic - more than 250 people have died of influenza infection in Germany.

By comparison, around 10,000 people die every year of ordinary flu in Germany.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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