Italy's first swine flu death reported

Italy announced its first swine flu victim – a 51-year-old Neapolitan man with chronic heart problems, who died in a Naples hospital this morning.

Cotugno Hospital health director, Dr Cosimo Maiorino, said swine flu, also known as the AH1N1 virus, was one of several serious health problems the patient suffered, and might not have been the sole cause of death.

Maiorino said in an interview on Sky TG24 TV that the man, who had been in hospital for several days, developed kidney failure as well as sepsis, a spreading bacterial infection, while he was being treated for the flu.

The patient also had long been afflicted with debilitating health problems, including diabetes and a serious heart condition, which in themselves could have been life-threatening, the doctor said.

The Italian news agency Apcom said the man had lived with his mother in Naples and hadn’t travelled abroad.

Italy has reported some 2,000 swine flu cases nationwide.

In the northern Italian city of Monza, a critically ill man in his 20s has been in hospital for days in an induced coma with swine flu.

Italian health authorities have said schools would begin the new year as scheduled, despite swine flu fears.

But single schools with three or more people sick at a time may be closed, Deputy Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio has said.

Italy expects swine flu to peak between December and January, with 1.5 million to 3 million cases, Fazio said.

A vaccination campaign beginning November 15 will immunise up to 40% of Italy’s 60 million people. The first wave of vaccinations will target 9 million, including health workers and people with health problems. A second wave will begin in February.

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