Texas Woman Dies; Had Swine Flu

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - Texas health officials on Tuesday
announced the first death of a U.S. resident with swine flu, and
said she was a 33-year-old schoolteacher who had recently given
birth to a healthy baby.

The woman died early Tuesday and had been hospitalized since
April 19, said Leonel Lopez, Cameron County epidemiologist.

Health officials stopped short of saying that swine flu caused
the woman's death. State health department spokeswoman Carrie
Williams said the woman had "chronic underlying health
conditions" but wouldn't give any more details.

Lopez said the flu exacerbated the woman's condition. "The
swine flu is very benign by itself," Lopez said. But "by the time
she came to see us it was already too late."

The only other swine flu death in the U.S. was of a Mexico City
boy who also had underlying health problems and had been visiting
relatives in Brownsville, near Harlingen. He died last week at a
Houston children's hospital.

There have been 26 other confirmed swine flu deaths, all in
Mexico. Hundreds of cases of the disease have been confirmed in
several countries, but mostly in Mexico and the U.S.

The teacher was from Harlingen, a city of about 63,000 near the
U.S.-Mexico border. The school district where she worked announced
it would close its schools for the rest of the week, though
officials said anyone who might have contracted the disease from
her would have shown symptoms by now.

The teacher was first seen by a physician April 14 and was
hospitalized on the 19th. The woman delivered a healthy baby while
hospitalized and stayed in the hospital until her death, said
Lopez, who declined to give further details about the baby.

Doctors knew she had a flu when she came in, but did not know
what kind, Lopez said. The area is undergoing a Type A influenza
epidemic right now, of which the swine flu is one variety, he said.
She was confirmed to have swine flu shortly before she died, he
said.

Dr. Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas
School of Public Health's Brownsville campus, said the woman was
extremely ill when she was hospitalized.

Mercedes Independent School District, where the woman taught,
announced it would close its schools starting Wednesday and reopen
May 11.

Based on the time the patient was admitted to the hospital and
began to show symptoms of swine flu, anyone who had contracted the
disease from her would have shown symptoms by now, McCormick said.

Lopez also said students and employees of the school district where
she worked shouldn't worry if they are currently healthy.

U.S. health officials changed course on their advice to schools
Tuesday, saying they are no longer recommending that schools close
for the swine flu. Last week, the government had advised schools to
shut down for about two weeks if there were suspected cases of
swine flu.


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