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Swine flu hits Yanomami Indians in the Amazon

CARACAS, Venezuela — Swine flu has appeared among Venezuela's Yanomami Indians, one of the largest isolated indigenous groups in the Amazon, and a doctor said Wednesday that the virus is suspected in seven deaths, including six infants.

The deaths happened in forest villages near Venezuela's border with Brazil over the past 2 ½ weeks, said Raidan Bernade, a Venezuelan doctor on a team working to contain the outbreak and treat the ill.

He said doctors had confirmed that one of those who died had swine flu — a 35-year-old Yanomami woman who they believe was pregnant.

Six babies, the oldest of whom was about 1, died from similar symptoms, though samples weren't taken in time to confirm it was swine flu, Bernade said by phone from La Esmeralda, a riverside town at the edge of the vast rain forest territory where the Yanomami live.

It is unclear how swine flu reached the Yanomami.

In other swine flu news:

Influenza-like illnesses, assumed to be primarily pandemic H1N1 influenza, continued to increase on college campuses last week, although the rate has slowed. A total of 9,128 new cases were reported in the week ending Oct. 30 at the 274 colleges and universities reporting to the American College Health Association, an increase of 2 percent from the previous week. Twenty-five hospitalizations were reported, but no deaths. That brings the totals for the academic year to more than 65,000 cases and 123 hospitalizations among the 3 million students at the reporting campuses.

During October, 43 percent of the institutions said they had received at least some swine flu vaccine. A total of 30,464 doses were administered, reaching 1 percent of the student population.

A cat in Iowa has been diagnosed with a laboratory-confirmed case of swine flu, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The cat was believed to have been infected by a member of the household, and has recovered completely.

Swine flu hits Yanomami Indians in the Amazon 11/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 11:10pm]
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