July 9, 2009

Swine flu death toll in Britain reaches 14

The British government says 14 people infected with the H1N1 influenza virus, or swine flu, have died in Britain to date.

Liam Donaldson, Britain's chief medical officer, said while all 14 people did have the potentially deadly disease, swine flu was not directly responsible for all of the deaths, the BBC reported Thursday.

Donaldson said epidemic levels regarding the influenza strain have nearly been reached in both London and the West Midlands.

The United Kingdom currently trails only Mexico and the United States in the total number of swine flu cases with 9,718 total cases.

In comparison, Mexico has10,262 swine flu cases and the United States has 33,902 confirmed cases.

The BBC said while Donaldson downplayed the risks associated with the swine flu, he warned the public of what could occur should the strain be altered.

We do have to remain cautious, the virus may change or mutate, but as it stands at the moment, it's not a severe illness for most people but some people can get it very severely, the health official said.

That's why getting a vaccine in place is vitally important.