Pregnant teenager suffering from swine flu dies

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A pregnant teenage woman has died after contracting swine flu, it was confirmed today.

The 17-year-old woman, who was from the Borders, died "in the last 24 hours", a spokesman for Scottish Government said.

Due to the sudden nature of this death, a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal, the spokesman added.

Scotland's Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "The death of this young mother-to-be and her baby is deeply saddening and my thoughts are with her family and friends.

"Medical experts have been telling us that pregnant women are more vulnerable to developing complications after contracting the virus. For this reason, they will be among the priority groups for vaccination when the H1N1 vaccine becomes available later this month.

"I would urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated to ensure the maximum protection for themselves and their babies."

Ms Sturgeon continued: "While there is no evidence to suggest that the virus is becoming any more dangerous for the public at large, this tragic death highlights that some groups are at greater risk and should take up the offer of vaccination."

The Scottish Government spokesman said no further details would be released.

In total, there have been 15 deaths in Scotland linked to the H1N1 virus, the spokesman added.

There has also been an increase in the number of people going to their GPs in Scotland with flu-like symptoms, Ms Sturgeon said.

Eight hundred GP practices in Scotland are now supplying figures for the statistics.

Consultations for flu-like symptoms have risen from last week's figure of 86.1 per 100,000 to 106.4 per 100,000, the Scottish Government said.

The rates suggest an estimated 4,370 people have consulted their GP.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) estimates that around 12,500 people have contracted H1N1 in the past week in Scotland.

A total of 64 people have also required hospital admission in the last week - the highest number of weekly admissions to hospital since the outbreak, the Scottish Government said.

Of this number, 50 people were in hospital in Scotland yesterday.

The figure takes the number of people being admitted to hospital in Scotland since the start of the outbreak to 315.

Speaking about the figures released today, Ms Sturgeon said: "Flu epidemics, by their very nature, are unpredictable and weekly increases and decreases are to be expected.

"Even if H1N1 continues to be a relatively mild virus for most people affected, its effects on the health service and on the wider community could be highly disruptive and we cannot be complacent about the threat presented by the outbreak."

Earlier today health officials in Wales confirmed a fourth swine flu-related death.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman confirmed the fourth death in Wales, but said no information could be released "out of courtesy" to the patient's family.

It followed the announcement of Wales's second and third deaths yesterday, including a 21-year-old pregnant woman from Monmouthshire.

Her baby was delivered safely and is well, but the mother died on October 9 after deteriorating, the Welsh Assembly Government said.

The woman was admitted to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny for a planned Caesarean section on 25 September. She was later taken to the hospital's intensive care unit and then transferred to the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation centre at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

The death of a 43-year-old woman from Carmarthenshire was also announced yesterday. She had underlying health conditions and test results confirmed swine flu was not the primary cause of death.

Wales's first swine flu-related death was on 15 August - a 55-year-old woman from Caerphilly County Borough.

* The number of deaths of people in the UK suffering from swine flu has passed 100, the Chief Medical Officer said today.

During his regular weekly briefing at the Department of Health, Sir Liam Donaldson said the number had reached 106.

He said there had been 83 deaths in England, 15 in Scotland, four in Wales and four in Northern Ireland.

The number of new cases of swine flu rose to 27,000 in the last week, up from 18,000 during the previous week.

The Health Protection Agency estimates about 37,000 people have contracted the virus so far in the UK.

Sir Liam said: "There is a further increase but the increase has not been anything like the doubling expected."

The number of people in hospital with the virus rose from 290 to 364 and the number in intensive care shot up from 47 to 74.

Sir Liam said: "This is the highest proportion of hospitalised patients who have been in intensive care since this began.

"For most of the time it's been about 12 to 13%, now it's up to 20%, suggesting we are seeing more serious cases than we were seeing before.

"There is no sign of any change in the virus but this is giving me some concern."

In a study of 266 hospitalised patients with confirmed swine flu more than a quarter suffered from asthma, more than one in ten had heart disease and around 10% were diabetic. Some 6% of the patients were pregnant.

Pregnant women will be offered the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine Pandemrix which should offer protection after just one dose.

The World Health Organization changed its guidance for expectant mothers today to support the use of the GSK vaccine.

A statement said: "The World Health Organization supports the use of vaccines as recommended by functional regulatory authorities.

"The GSK vaccine has been licensed for use in pregnant women in Europe, as of September 2009."

Asked for his advice to anxious pregnant women, Sir Liam said: "Our message is the same as it's always been, that whilst the disease is mild for the majority of people including pregnant women, pregnant women are at a higher risk of the complications of flu.

"I know from my own experience of talking to women in pregnancy that they want to reduce the risk to themselves and, more importantly, to the unborn baby as much as they can.

"Therefore the sensible approach to reducing these risks is to get the vaccine."

He added: "I do not want to see pregnant women dying of a preventable disease, that's the bottom line."