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H1N1 Doctor Deaths In Ukraine Raise Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 22:22
November 1, 2009

Four doctors died of flu in Ukraine's Ternopol and Lvov regions, Health Minister Vasily Knyazevich said at the Sunday meeting of the operative headquarters for the prevention and treatment of A/H1N1 flu.

The above comments describe the death of four health care workers (HCWs) at two sites in western Ukraine.  The government website shows a total of 53 deaths (see map), which is quite low if four HCWs have already died.  HCW are trained in methods to minimize infections from patients, and they are likely to get prompt medical attention, yet four have already died.  These numbers add to the confusion in Ukraine.

Initial reports denied the outbreak was due to H1N1 even though there was virtually no seasonal flu circulating in Europe (or North America).  The explosion in cases of acute respiratory illness (ARI), in view of the exploding H1N1 pandemic throughout the northern hemisphere, would signal involvement in the cases in Ukraine.

However, even after H1N1 was confirmed in influenza and ARI patients in western Ukraine, Kiev was still maintaining that the cases there were not H1N1, even though 300,000 doses of Tamiflu are scheduled to arrive today, and a WHO investigative team is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

The denials of H1N1 in obvious cases raise concerns that the number of fatalities is markedly higher that the 53 acknowledged, especially when 4 of the 53 are HCWs.

More details on the HCW deaths and on those hospitalized would be useful.

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