2 more Israelis hospitalized with severe H1N1

Health Ministry says swine flu fatality Shimon Azran, 35, was susceptible to virus due to weight, smoking.

Shimon Azran 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Shimon Azran 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Two Israelis were admitted to intensive care units on Monday night suffering from severe cases of swine flu. The first, a two-year-old girl was at Schneider Hospital in Petah Tikva, and the second, a 50-year-old man, was at Jerusalem's Sha'are Tzedek Hospital. The man was said to be in the 'high-risk' category. Also Monday, the Health Ministry said that the first Israeli fatality from the H1N1 virus, 35-year-old Eilat resident Shimon Azran, was a heavy smoker and obese, thus explaining his susceptibility to the virus. A two-year-old boy suffering from a serious chronic disease who also died at Eilat's Josephthal Hospital was suspected of having an H1N1 infection, but did not, the ministry added. There have been about 1,100 swine flu cases here in the last four months, almost all of them mild. The ministry said it would not change its new policy of testing for the virus only those at high risk of complications who reported typical symptoms. Azran arrived at the hospital last week complaining of a severe cough and throat pain. After an examination, he was sent home; he reported that he had not returned from a trip abroad and had not been in contact with people who had the flu. Azran returned feeling worse and was hospitalized in the small hospital's intensive care unit, where he died. The family has already filed a malpractice suit against the hospital. First identified in April, swine flu originated in Mexico and spread quickly throughout the world. It has hit the United States harder than anywhere else, having likely infected more than 1 million Americans. There have been 302 deaths and nearly 44,000 laboratory-identified cases in the United States, according to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because the swine flu virus is new, most people have no immunity to it. So far, most of those who have died from it in the United States have had other health problems, such as asthma. The virus has caused an unusual number of serious illnesses in teens and young adults, unlike the seasonal flu, which is usually most dangerous to the elderly and very young children. Saudi Arabia also reported its first swine flu death Monday. The Saudi Health Ministry said in a statement that a 30-year-old man was admitted to a hospital last Wednesday complaining of high fever, coughing, breathing difficulty and obesity. The man was treated with antibiotics and the flu medication Tamiflu but his condition deteriorated and he died early Saturday. It did not say why the announcement of his death was held for 48 hours. Saudi Arabia has 232 reported cases of the flu, the most in the Arab world. Arab health ministers Wednesday banned children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses from attending this year's pilgrimage to Mecca fearing it would aid the spread of the disease. AP contributed to this report.