By Clara Cavour, Contributing Reporter

Rubén Figueroa, chief of Prevention and Control of Diseases Unity of Pan American Health Organization, photo by Antônio Cruz/ABr.
Rubén Figueroa, chief of Prevention and Control of Diseases Unity of Pan American Health Organization, photo by Antônio Cruz/ABr.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s Ministry of Health announced on Saturday, May 16th that the number of suspected cases of H1N1 flu, known as Swine flu, decreased from 35 to 25, while the confirmed cases maintain stable: eight, three of them in Rio de Janeiro. On the same day, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the worldwide number of cases has climbed to 8,451.

According to the Ministry’s report, the suspected cases in Brazil are in Minas Gerais (8), São Paulo (6), Rio de Janeiro (3), Distrito Federal (2), Alagoas (1), Amapá (1), Bahia (1), Paraná (1), Pernambuco (1), Piauí (1) e Rondônia (1).

Last week, a 29 year old man infected with swine flu after a friend traveled to Mexico, left Hospital Clementino Fraga Filho, in Ilha do Governador, Rio. He has been interned for a week. His mother, also infected, is well and waits for the risk of contamination period to finish.

The man spoke to O Globo newspaper by phone and said he has felt the same symptoms as a common flu, but stronger. After being admitted to hospital and going through initial treatment, he started to feel better quickly. “I felt good results as soon as I got the medicine that came from United States. I had a fever in the first three days, but after that, I felt better”.

Before him, a 21 year old man, the first one to be diagnosed with swine flu in Rio, has been discharged from hospital, after being interned for eight days. He showed swine flu symptoms after a trip to Cancun, in Mexico.

The vast majority of cases have been diagnosed in Mexico and United States. Mexico, the epicenter of the illness, has now 2,895 cases confirmed and 66 deaths, according to WHO. United States has surpassed Mexico in cases, registering 4,714 people infected and four deaths. Canada is the third country in numbers of cases, with 496 and one death. There were already 72 deaths worldwide and the number of countries reporting confirmed cases has risen to 38, as Japan, Ecuador, Peru, India and Turkey reported their first cases last weekend.

The chief of Prevention and Control of Diseases Unity of Pan American Health Organization, Rubén Figueroa, said, last Friday, in Brasilia, the increase of the number of cases does not mean that the epidemic is spreading. “These numbers are not necessarily an expression of what is happening about the epidemic. It is a mix of new cases with confirmed suspicion cases that were waiting for diagnostic”, he said. “There are places in the world where the illness has not appeared. It is probable that the mortality rate stabilizes because we already know H1N1 and the medical services are on alert”.

Brazil has 52 hospitals capable to treating swine flu victims. The Ministry of Health has also created a free phone number to clarify people about the disease: 0800-61-1997. In Rio, people with suspicion of swine flu may go to Hospital Universitário Clementino Fraga Filho, in Ilha do Governador, Instituto de Pesquisa Clínica Evandro Chagas, in Manguinhos, Hospital Central IASERJ, in Centro, or Hospital Universitário Dr. Pedro Ernesto, in Vila Isabel.

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