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H1N1 kills two more

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Health authorities yesterday confirmed two more A(H1N1) related deaths, including one victim who may have shown resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu, local media reported.

The patient died from the new virus less than one week after showing signs of the disease, authorities said.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that at present the agency cannot confirm the reason behind the ineffectiveness of the medication, which could have be the result of drug resistance or mutation of the A(H1N1) virus.

The case involved a 44-year-old woman from Pingtung County who experienced discomfort on Aug. 17 and later came down with a fever of 39 degree-Celsius on Aug. 20, the CDC said.

The fever was also coupled with severe cough, shortness of breath, which developed into a respiratory infection on Aug. 21, the CDC added.

The woman was not a Typhoon Morakot victim, said the CDC.

Officials were cited as saying that the woman had tested positive for the flu upon taking the rapid influenza diagnostic test and was placed on a course of Tamiflu treatment.

The medication did not help the woman, who died from multiple organ failure, the CDC said.

The other death involved a 6-year-old boy in Changhua County who came down with cough, runny nose, sore throat and high fever on July 19, said the agency.

Officials noted that he initially sought medical help from a local clinic and did not take the rapid test nor was given antiviral drugs.

He was later transferred to a larger medical facility before his illness took a turn for the worse on July 27, after which he was under intensive medical care until passing away on Aug. 21, said officials.

The two deaths put the current number of fatalities at five, involving cases from Taipei City, Kaohsiung City, Taitung County, Changhua County and Pingtung County, the CDC said.

Five patients with serious A(H1N1) infections remain in ICUs, said officials.

Typhoon Relief Soldiers Confirmed with A(H1N1)

The Department of Health (DOH) last night reported two cases of massive flu outbreaks involving troops participating in Typhoon Morakot rescue efforts in southern Taiwan, with four of the soldiers confirmed as carrying the A(H1N1) virus and another as carrying the H3N2 seasonal strain.

Steve Kuo, head of the CDC, dismissed rumors that two soldiers had succumbed the A(H1N1) flu.

Given the grave epidemic situation, Premier Liu Chao Shiuan instructed all soldiers to wear face masks in devastation areas as an extra level of protection.

Volunteers in disaster zones are also required to wear them, added the paper.

Health authorities previously reported that the new flu strains tend to attack the young and healthy, who do not seem to be equipped with the antibodies to fight the disease.

Liu's orders marked the first time the government has mandated the wearing of face masks since the country recorded its first A(H1N1) case, said the United Evening News.

Meanwhile, 300 people in Wan-nei village, Pingtung County have fallen ill, with many coming down with fever, said local media.

Health officials have momentarily ruled out the novel flu virus as the culprit behind the illnesses in the village of Wan-dan Township and believed leptospirosis to blame as animal carcasses have been left scattered about pending disposal after floodwaters receded.

Leptospirosis, or Weil's disease, is a bacterial infection commonly transmitted to humans via urine-contaminated water coming into contact with unhealed breaks in the skin or with mucous membranes.

Taiwan is still recovering from the destruction wrought by Typhoon Morakot, and Liu said epidemic control measures should be given priority at emergency shelters for people left homeless by the natural disaster, according to CNA reports.

As of Monday, more than 6,000 survivors remain in shelters in the hardest-hit zones in southern Taiwan's Pingtung, Kaohsiung and Chiayi counties, said the CNA.

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 H1N1 kills two more 
In tandem with a graver epidemic situation amid reports of two additional A(H1N1)-related deaths, Premier Liu Chao Shiuan instructed all soldiers and volunteers to wear face masks in devastated areas so as to add an extra level of protection and to prevent further outbreaks. (CNA)

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