Tourist in intensive care in Tel Aviv with swine flu

The young woman is the first victim in Israel to suffer serious complications of the H1N1 virus.

The Health Ministry is not changing its lenient policies regarding swine flu victims, despite the announcement Monday that a 21-year-old Swedish tourist is in the intensive care unit of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center with complications of the H1N1 flu strain. The tourist's mother, who has a mild case, is at the same hospital. The young woman is the first victim here to suffer serious complications of the H1N1 virus of the nearly 850 people who have been diagnosed with mild cases since the spring. The Health Ministry said it would continue its policy of sending home people diagnosed with swine flu, instead of hospitalizing them in isolation. The 21-year-old tourist was hospitalized with pneumonia and after biological samples were taken, she was found two days later to have H1N1. There is as yet no vaccine against the virus. Tamiflu, an anti-viral drug given immediately after diagnosis, minimizes complications. Prof. Yehuda Carmel, head of Sourasky's infectious diseases unit, said it was unusual that the young woman got pneumonia directly from the swine flu virus and not as a result of other complications. Because middle-aged and elderly people apparently have natural immunity to swine flu due to some sort of previous exposure, it is younger people who have been coming down with H1N1 in Israel. Ordinary flu can cause serious complications and even death in elderly people with weak immune systems and chronic diseases.